Aprendiendo Inglés – El Club Helps Native Speakers

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. Every Monday evening, El Club offers English-as-a-second-language (ESL) tutoring to Hispanic residents of Millerton.
The club brings students to the Northeast Community Center (NECC) to help native Spanish speakers improve their written and spoken English. According to Jennifer Li ’20, co-head of El Club, the lessons will help tutees apply for jobs, advocate for themselves with employers, collaborate with co-workers, and attend to other basic tasks that are heavily dependent on the ability to communicate successfully in English.
This type of program, according to the heads of El Club, can be a rewarding experience for not only the tutees but for the tutors as well. Li said, “I would encourage students who are pretty proficient in [Spanish] to tutor, not just because tutoring will help someone else, but it also will help your [own] understanding of the language a bit more.”
Tutors often form a relationship with their students and learn more about their situation. Dom Bellido ’20, co-head of El Club, said, “This is not only an opportunity to help them but also learn from them and share their stories.”
Last year, Brant Hadzima ’20 tutored a 17-year-old immigrant from Guatemala. After receiving ESL tutoring, his tutuee applied to attend high school. Li said, “[This is a good example of] what we want to help these residents to achieve.”
Tutoring programs like those run by the Millbrook School inspired Ms. Caroline Kenny-Burchfield ’77, coordinator of volunteer programs, to approach Li about offering ESL tutoring at the NECC last fall.
El Club faced several challenges in the process of establishing the program, like finding convenient times to schedule lessons for the tutors and their students. In addition, some students face steeper learning curves than others. Dominic Bellido ’20 said, “Not all students are practicing and showing exemplary progress. Everyone’s trying, but some are catching up [more quickly] than others.”
El Club also promotes awareness of Hispanic and Latinx culture in the school through activities such as Spanish Tables. This year, the club hopes to host more community events, such as potlucks.
Anyone who has a sufficient Spanish and English level can help volunteer. Bellido said, “We’re trying to give [students at Hotchkiss] an opportunity and expand this [program].”Students interested in getting involved in the ESL tutoring program should contact one of the heads of El Club: Li, Bellido, or Maria Saldivares ’21.