Norman, Okla., church attracts families with English classes
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church serves the growing Hispanic community in Norman, Okla., with classes in English as a second language.
|Rhonda Ramos (center) assists participants Josefina Garcia (left) and Gloria Olga Guerrero in a lesson on vocabulary.|
The church recently completed its second year of the classes, which have grown from 30 to 60 students. Classes will continue this fall.
“The key component is that we offer free child care so the whole family comes,” said Kay Antinoro, director of educational ministries at the church. School-age children receive free tutoring while their parents attend classes.
Church members began English classes when they discovered a tremendous need for language instruction among families whose children attended Head Start classes at the church.
Three levels of instruction incorporate games, puzzles, role-playing and conversation to teach English skills for daily living. Church members enrolled in Spanish classes at the church serve as conversation assistants.
Teachers at the Head Start program said parents who participated in the classes communicated more readily during parent-teacher conferences. “We think this shows an increase in both English skills and confidence, inspired by learning and using English in a safe and encouraging environment,” said ministry coordinator Chris McDougall.
Church members provide scholarships for each student to help cover costs. “We said this is a way to buy a Christmas present for somebody,” Antinoro said. “It’s an easy way to increase your budget.”
—Adapted from a story in the Oklahoma United Methodist Contact by Brenda Weelock.