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Closed doors can’t keep this ESL group down!

Image of fingers with faces drawn on them. Speech bubbles above the finger people say "hello" in a variety of languages.

Jul 14, 2020

Tuesday afternoons at the North Gloucester branch are always alive and bustling with camaraderie and warmth, largely in part thanks to the English as a Second Language program held weekly, facilitated by volunteers from the community. A free, weekly drop-in session is open to anyone wanting to learn English. It is set up in 2 parts: one part group conversation, the other part small groups, one facilitator in each. It is very well attended; we’ve had to expand into two meeting rooms as the group has become more popular. 

The ESL volunteers didn’t skip a beat when the library announced its temporary closure; since the session during March Break is always cancelled to allow for children’s programming, they took the first week we were closed (March Break) to organize themselves and contact the most recent list of participants to see if there would still be a demand. Lo and behold, there was. 

The lead volunteer has set up a spreadsheet for participants to sign up for a time slot at 1, 1:30 or 2pm, to have one-on-one with a facilitator. The “students” and facilitators are using a variety of video chat platforms, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, in order to meet virtually. 

Though it’s not the typical group conversation, participants are still working on their English and more importantly, keeping lines of communication and support open within the community. The volunteers of this program are doing an outstanding job, showing up for their community without even being asked, bringing even just an ounce of semblance of normalcy and structure to one’s life these days. North Gloucester is lucky to have such dedicated volunteers and studious participants – without either, the Tuesday afternoon lessons would have but put on hold weeks ago. Though it will fill the gap for now, we are looking forward to the day we can welcome everyone back into the branch. 

Maybe this little anecdote has your wheels turning...maybe you know someone who could benefit from learning English as a second language? The OPL website is a wealth of resources and – you guessed it! - there are plenty of language resources of which you can take advantage. Try these: 

Mango Languages: This database gives you access to many English online language learning courses for non-English speakers.  

Tense Buster: This database is to help ESL students improve their reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary and grammar skills, broken down into 5 levels of proficiency. 

Access Video on Demand: Once you’re in this database, search for the Standard Deviants School ESL Series – there should only be one result. You will see when you click on the link that the series has been broken down into different videos for verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc. 

We are very thankful for the volunteer facilitators, showing up every week to support those in their community who need it maybe a little more than others. We are also grateful for the participants, who continue to engage in their community from within their homes. This is the most important piece – that we are all together, at home.


Blog post contributed by Celia R. from the North Gloucester Branch.