Making an Impact with English in Action

by Aimee Yllanes

Most of us have experienced the intense frustration of not being able to express ourselves adequately. For Roaring Fork Valley adults who speak little or no English, this is a daily––often debilitating––experience. English In Action was founded to bridge this communication gap and CRMS students are helping to make an impact.

A partnership that began before the pandemic between English In Action and Colorado Rocky Mountain School has continued this year with small groups meeting via Zoom. CRMS Spanish teachers, Dan Pittz and Juanma Martin Cespedes have enlisted a growing and committed group of students to co-tutor a small group each week. The students are involved in planning and supporting the weekly lessons, modeling pronunciation, and giving English In Action students opportunities to practice conversation in one-on-one Zoom breakout rooms. English In Action students benefit from interacting with people with a wide range of English accents, ages, and interests. Interestingly, some of the high schoolers were drawn to the program because they are also English as Second Language learners themselves, giving our students perspective and the confidence to know that learning English is within their reach.

When speaking about her own experience learning a second language, Ambar Linares-Egger ’23 says of the program, “I wish I’d had access to something like English In Action: a safe space where you can just practice a language, free of judgment, and surrounded by people who are there to see you grow. I think that English In Action is a wonderful component of the Roaring Fork Valley and is a deeply impactful tool for many individuals. I love the small groups I find myself in, and it’s always wonderful when you see a student grow tremendously.”

Dan mirrors her enthusiasm, noting that the ripple effect of these interactions is huge. “It is exciting to watch all these interactions and see connections and conversations taking place that wouldn’t otherwise. We are so happy to have a part in it.”

English In Action is a non-profit organization in the Roaring Fork Valley. Their mission is to strengthen the quality of life for everyone in our community by helping adult immigrants learn to read, write and speak English, and by cultivating cross-cultural relationships. They do this in several ways: Through one-on-one and small group tutoring, weekly drop-in classes, and specialized workshops designed to help students overcome obstacles to learning English. The direct result of these programs is that the adult students are able to get better jobs, seek medical attention when their kids are sick, support their children in school, more effectively manage the logistics of daily life, and become fully engaged members of our community. Breaking down cultural barriers is no easy feat. However, the benefits of nurturing a more integrated, compassionate, and harmonious community––in which everyone has a voice––are immeasurable.

To learn about other service-learning opportunities at CRMS visit:

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Community, Service, Student

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