Program needs ESL volunteers

The Crowder AEL program is need of volunteer tutors on the Neosho and Noel campuses to work with students who speak English as a second language (ESL).  Volunteers are not required to know any foreign languages or have any previous teaching experience, but Jersvy McKnight, an ESL instructor on the Neosho campus, said the volunteers should have a strong command of the English language

“They have to be really knowledgeable of English grammar,” she said.

The tutors will work with the ESL students at all levels of English fluency in classes designed to increase their proficiency in English. Adult ESL class“They will be working with my (beginning), intermediate and advanced students,” McKnight said.

Tutors work with people from different cultures, as the ESL students come from a wide variety of backgrounds. “Most of them are Mexican or Guatemalan,” McKnight said, “but I also have one Chinese, one from Bolivia, two from Thailand, one from Somalia and another from Burma.”

Tania Heiskell, originally of Bolivia, is one of the students in the ESL program. Though she holds a Masters of Business Administration in her country of origin, when she came to the United States, she found opportunities limited because she wasn’t a fluent English speaker and the certifications she held in Bolivia weren’t valid in the U.S.

“Even though I have a (high level) of education in my country, when I came here and looked for a job, it was hard because English is my second language,” she said.

Heiskell said her studies in the Crowder ESL program have done much to improve her command of English. “I learned a lot,” she said. “The program helped me to learn English … and to communicate better.”

Additionally, Heiskell said she finds the classes very enjoyable. “I like my class because every day I learn something diffeESL for adultsrent,” she said. “We practice a lot of reading, writing, listening and speaking.”

Next year, Heiskell said she plans to enroll in other courses at Crowder so her certifications will be valid in the United States.

Classes in the Neosho campus are located in Neosho 300C and are taught Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In Noel, the classes are taught at the Noel First Baptist Church Family Life Center on Gratz Street at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Anyone wishing to become a tutor must be at least 18 years old, a native or fluent English speaker, be willing to commit to working with the ESL students at least two hours a week, and be able to pass a background check, which the ESL program will pay for. According to McKnight, tutoring will also count towards Service Seed hours.

For more information, contact Cindy Brown, Director of Public Information at (417)455-5540 or by e-mail at; or call Julie DeNisco, Crowder College AEL Program Director, at (417)455-5521 or by e-mail at