Mary Pat Wilson is a full-time Realtor in Denver, Colorado with Perry & Co. Real Estate Professionals. In her free-time, Mary Pat teaches English as a Second Language.
It’s a typical morning at the Central Denver Language School where 50 men and women come four mornings a week to learn English. Some arrive directly from all-night jobs; others leave class headed for back-to-back afternoon and evening shifts. Some of the students have cars but many walk, take buses, or ride bikes. Several students bring their toddlers to the nursery down the hall.
“They start to arrive in the church basement early. Half an hour before class begins l hear a murmur of voices: Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Korean, Farsi, and French. Helping these bright, inquisitive people learn our language and our culture is incredibly fulfilling,” says Mary Pat Wilson, Perry & Co. Realtor and volunteer English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.
The five classrooms are located in a large open room with dividers and whiteboards. All are jammed with folding tables and chairs. The teachers crowd around the copy machine preparing the day’s lessons, checking textbooks out of the office, gathering supplies. By 9:30 the classes are in full swing. Another amazing day begins.
Central Denver Language School is located near downtown Denver and has been teaching English to “foreign” speakers for several years. Because all of the teachers volunteer their time, the tuition is remarkably affordable, covering the cost of supplies and overhead. Mary Pat’s students come for many reasons, from many places and vary in age and experience. She describes a typical morning: “This morning when I arrived at 9:00 a. m. one of the students, a petite woman from Taiwan who is a Buddhist nun, was already in her seat studying directions on a map and referring to her Chinese-English computer dictionary. Next came a young man from Korea whose shyness makes it difficult to hear him but whose grasp of English grows each week. The couple from Iran arrived with smiles and gracious handshakes for each person in the room. Each year they visit their son who lives in Denver and always come to ‘English school’.”
Three women from Mexico arrive together-chatting in Spanish until one of them remembers and giggles, “We speak only English in class!” The gentleman from Tunisia is in Denver while his wife completes her PhD at the University of Denver. Their three-year old daughter sometimes accompanies her Dad to class. Natasha, who speaks French, and Annie, a Chinese speaker are the last to arrive.
Classes are offered four mornings a week throughout the year. At the end of each 10-week session, the students and teachers throw a big party where each student brings their favorite food. Friends and families are invited. The room, decorated with flowers and bright tablecloths, fills with every kind of music from the boom box. Some of the students play guitar and sing, others recite poetry.
Mary Pat Wilson teaches one morning a week during the busy real estate season. “Offering a safe and supportive place for students to try out their new skills has big rewards. Especially when I hear them leave class saying, ‘See you later, alligator.’ That’s my clue to respond, ‘After a while, crocodile.’”
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Tags: CDLS, Central Denver Language School, Denver, English as a Second Language, ESL, Mary Pat Wilson, Perry & Co, Positive Attitude