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Library Seeks English Conversation Group Leaders

Program was forced to suspend classes due to loss of teachers.

is looking for volunteer English teachers who can lead weekly conversation groups for English language learners.

The library began offering English conversation classes about 18 months ago. This month, they were forced to suspend the program due to a lack of available teachers. The library was offering two classes per week, one on Tuesday morning and one on Wednesday night.

Denise Morgan, library branch manager, said class participants often discuss current events, holidays or local news during the sessions.

“Everyone gets a time to speak, because of course that’s very important,” she said. “But for these people, having a conversation group is also a way to get information about living in this country. It’s often a gateway.”

English learners often have questions like how to find a church, what the library does or how to register children for school, Morgan said. The participants are frequently new to the United States and live with fellow immigrants.

“Blending is a challenge,” Morgan said. “Having someone who can live here and explain is important.”

The program began with four volunteer teachers. One teacher retired, and two experienced health problems that prevented them from continuing to teach. Recently, the last remaining teacher made plans to attend law school, and won't have time to teach during her first year as a student.

“It’s hard to find folks who can consistently be here,” said Morgan, who has set up similar groups at Kingstowne Library and George Mason Regional Library. “Preparation for the conversation group is really easy. Anyone who speaks English and has an interest in helping other people usually has no problem, but it seems to be that being available every week is the real sticking point.”

According to the U.S. English Foundation, Fairfax County residents speak 92 languages, making the county the most linguistically diverse county in Virginia.

The library is located at 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane in Fort Hunt. Anyone interested in volunteering as a teacher can contact Morgan by email at denise.morgan@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-718-8208.

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