Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tutoring English at the Biblioteca Publica

I am now a volunteer English tutor three evenings per week at the Biblioteca Publica (public library). Actually, I am a co-tutor with my friend Marc (a special education teacher from California). After being assigned three adult students (and a possible fourth) to tutor in English, he was feeling a bit overwhelmed and asked me to help out. I really couldn't say no. There is such great need and so few volunteers.

Tonight was our first tutoring session with two of our students, Laura and Berta, who have very little knowledge of the English language. Apparently, English is not taught in primary and secondary schools here. We all sat around a table adjacent to a beautiful courtyard (see photo), which makes the experience particularly pleasant.

To be perfectly candid, I would not have known where to begin. I spent most of the one-hour session observing Marc, who has 35 plus years of teaching experience in special education. What a pro! He is returning to the U.S. on August 1st, so I have a lot to learn from him during the next two weeks. Laura and Berta did beautifully and our first session was a success.

The Biblioteca has an interesting history, having been started by a Mrs. Helen Wale in 1954. It has the most extensive bilingual library outside of Mexico City and contains more than 55 thousand volumes in Spanish and English. The library also has a small collection of German and French literature.

The Biblioteca Publica provides many services to the community including low-cost computer classes in Spanish and English for children and adults, scholarships to rural students in junior and senior high school and university, and a theater for plays, concerts and movies. The library also publishes a weekly newspaper, Atencion San Miguel, with articles in both Spanish and English.

Scroll down to view a video about the Biblioteca Publica in San Miguel de Allende.

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