Volunteer as an English or Citizenship Tutor

Want to make an immediate difference in someone’s life?   Become a tutor at International House!

Our next cycle of English Tutoring and Citizenship classes begins July 13th and we are currently looking for more tutors to help our students enrolled in these popular programs.

Volunteer tutors and students are matched in a one-on-one format during one of four available time slots on Mondays.   Tutor materials will be available at IH, along with a tutoring facilitator that can answer any questions.   All tutors will attend an orientation session on July 8th 6-8pm at IH to learn more about this program, answer questions, and prepare tutors for the new session.

Tutors and students only need to commit to an hour and a half a week for 10 weeks  (sessions are offered each quarter).  For more information, click >>here or contact Megan Mavity, Director of Education, at mmavity@ihclt.org or call at 704-333-8099 ext  110.

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International House Gets Hands-On with “Hands On Schools”

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International House enjoys partnering with Hands On Schools, an organization committed to supporting Charlotte-Mecklenburg students and their families, through its CARES (Coalition for Albemarle Road Elementary School) program.  The chief focus of CARES are the bimonthly Family Nights that take place at the school.  Family Nights offer consistent, enriching programs to students and their parents to best support and develop their quality of life.

At the CARES Family Nights, International House offers a class for parents called Charlotte University.  Taught in an ESL format, the class provides information to parents about important resources in Charlotte about which they should be aware—and strengthens their English proficiency while doing so!

The first Family Night took place on Thursday, September 26.  In the Charlotte University class, 25 parents enjoyed hearing from Officer Danny Hernandez from the CMPD on topics such as speeding, the role of law enforcement officers, and the proper procedure for license plate registration and displays.  The class also offered a safe space for parents to express their concerns about living in Charlotte, such as the fact that many people assume they are “Mexican,” when in reality they come from a wide variety of Spanish-speaking countries.  Officer Hernandez, himself a strong advocate for the Latino and Hispanic community in Charlotte, validated these parents’ concerns and expressed CMPD’s desire to support them and their families.

For the second Family Night on October 24, International House looks forward to partnering with CATS for a Charlotte University session on how to best utilize the Queen City’s transportation system.

YETP 2013

By: Denise Long, Executive Director

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Walk the hallways of Merry Oaks Elementary School and listen. Children’s voices rise and fall as they play vocabulary bingo or a game about verbs. Laughter punctuates the lessons. There is the scramble of feet as one of the lead teachers in a nearby classroom announces a snack break. Music filters from another classroom where children dance the “Hokey Pokey” and learn the correct English names for various body parts. Then, take a drive over to Pinewood or Montclaire Elementary School and hear the same sounds repeated. I guarantee you will leave with a lighter step and a smile on your lips!

This is the fourth year that International House has offered a summer Youth English Tutoring Program (YETP) to children in Charlotte who struggle to keep pace with their peers due to limited English proficiency. Many children in the CMS school system lose language proficiency over the summer while staying at home in a non-English speaking household. In Mecklenburg County, 13.5% of the County’s residents are foreign-born, and enrollment of language-minority students in the CMS system is at an all time high. CMS does not currently offer ESL summer programs for elementary school children, although there are programs at the middle and high school levels.

International House’s Youth English Tutoring Program (YETP) helps fill the gap by providing free English tutoring during the summer break for low-income immigrant children who do not speak English at home. YETP has blossomed through the years. Our initial pilot program was offered during the summer of 2010 and assisted 36 children with English language skills in a 3 week program. In 2011, International House began a partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools  to better identify students most in need of English tutoring and to offer the program on-site at a local elementary school. There were 106 participants in two three-week sessions.  Last year (2012), the CMS partnership was further expanded to include two schools, 145 students, and more instruction hours (six week instead of three week sessions).

Our current program is now taking place at 3 elementary schools with over 200 children enjoying a fun-filled summer of learning  The YETP model matches a trained tutor with small groups of children for a 6 week half-day program. Each of the participating schools also has site coordinators and lead teachers  who supervise the tutors  and assist with student recruitment, placement and testing. The site coordinators and lead teachers are familiar with the children at each school and can offer individualized attention to a child’s particular learning needs.

The results are impressive.  Test scores show that children do not lose English fluency over the summer but rather increase an average of 15 to 25%.  And, perhaps just as importantly, the children receive the encouragement and support of adult teachers and mentors who believe in them and encourage them to succeed.

International House is extremely grateful for the support of the funders who have made YETP possible: the Belk Foundation, PNC Bank Foundation, and the Duke Energy Foundation.  Kudos should also go to Education Director, Gail Johnson, whose passion, enthusiasm, and community connections have played a large part in YETP’s ongoing success.

For many children in Charlotte, the chance to attend a fun and educational summer camp is a distant dream due to cost and transportation barriers. YETP is a dream come true for over 200 children are learning to love English, as well as their new home in America.

April Fool: Myths About Immigrants

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By: Denise Long, Executive Director

“Immigrants don’t want to assimilate and learn English.”

There are a lot of myths floating around out there about immigrants who come to Charlotte and other cities across the U.S.  This is one of them. Unfortunately, repetition of misinformation can often fuel the fires of anti-immigrant sentiment and even racism. It is  important that organizations like International House and others serving Charlotte’s immigrant communities lift up our voices to offer facts that counteract some of these stereotypes and misconceptions.

How often have you heard a comment like this?  “Immigrants aren’t interested in fitting into our society. They don’t want to learn English or become Americans. My grandparents were immigrants, and they had to work hard to learn English and to assimilate. Today’s immigrants should do the same.”  Well, the reality is that most immigrants today ARE working hard to learn English and adapt to their new country. Within 10 years of their arrival, over 75% of immigrants speak English well. However, many work two or more jobs, have few financial resources or need child care in order to take an ESL class. English language programs in the United States are insufficient to meet the demand. It is estimated that more than 90,000 immigrants across the nation are on waiting lists to learn English.

Here at International House, we can testify to the desire of Charlotte’s immigrant community to learn English. Stop by one of our weekly ESL classes. You will see an array of eager students from countries around the world hard at work to learn a language they know they must master in order to succeed.  There is a local baker from Honduras, a former engineer from Iran, a night-shift worker from Laos, a young widow from Mexico, a newcomer from Haiti, a grandmother from Peru, and refugees from Vietnam, Somalia, and Bhutan.

International House’s educational programs are highly regarded and sought out by many immigrants who don’t want a hand out, but simply a “hand up”, i.e. the tools they know they need in order to better integrate into their community. Our ESL classes, one-on-one tutoring program, citizenship classes, and basic life skills workshops are all filled by some of Charlotte’s newest residents who are seeking the American Dream, just like the rest of us. They want to become U.S. citizens in spite of difficult requirements and long delays.

The percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born today is about 12%. In the early 20th century, it was about 15%. Immigrants who arrived here 100 years ago faced similar types of discrimination and suspicion as those coming here today, but history shows that they successfully assimilated into our culture and country. Today’s newcomers are adjusting and blending into U.S. society at the same rate as previous generations of immigrants. Let’s give them a chance and salute them for their hard work to learn English and provide for their families. We are glad they are here!