The Hippo


Nov 16, 2019








Kathy Desroches

Five favorites

Favorite book: This is kind of a funny book, considering what we’re talking about. The Poisonwood Bible. 
Favorite kind of music: Indie rock. 
Favorite Food: Vegan food. I like soup. It’s my favorite. 
Favorite movie: The last one I saw — The Butler.  
Favorite thing about NH: I like the weather. it’s always different. 

Book talk
MCC launches new ESOL reading group


How did the idea come about?

I run the ESOL program through my department and I started to realize there was a vast difference between people who read outside of class and people who didn’t. I saw one woman who’d speak extremely well, but couldn’t write. Then one man could not understand a single word I had to say, but his writing was phenomenal. I suggested to the woman that she join a reading group, and then I thought, why don’t I start one myself? This was last year and it took a whole year to get it off the ground. We have a similar group for speaking, we have an ESOL cafe, so this is an outgrowth of that. The ESOL cafe is at the main campus and the book club is downtown. 
There are a lot of ESOL speaking groups out there, but are reading groups hard to come by?
MST [Manchester School of Technology]  has an adult basic education program and they also have a book club primarily for their students, I think. Ours is open to the public. There’s a very strong need in community. The only reason Manchester is one of youngest cities in state is because so many people are coming in from other countries, whether they are refugees or immigrants. 
What will the meetings look like?
We’ve got a grant from the New Hampshire Humanities Council to kick it off, and we’ve hired an instructor who’s done a lot of work in this area, so we’re using her to start it for four weeks. They are reading a book called Seedfolks. It’s a very short book of stories about gardening, but it’s challenging enough. There’s a challenge to find a book for people whose English is understandable, but it’s not dumbed down. 
Has there been a strong response?
We have gotten good responses from a limited amount of people.  But I’m not really sure if people can understand what “book club”  means, and I’m not really sure how else to say it. ... We’ve tried to give information out to everyone we can think of. We’ve reached out to a lot of different ESOL groups of educators we work with. 
Is there an intimidation factor in reading with a group?
You know, it’s funny — for any of us to go into anything, it’s a little intimidating that first time you go, but in my office I see a lot people who are not English speakers, and I really don’t think it would be more intimidating than anything else they could do. I think they are used to taking chances and risks. 
Beside helping improve reading skills, how else will the class help ESOL people?
There’s always a social aspect, building community. They ... encourage others. … It’s a good opportunity to meet people from other parts of the world. When I hire people for ESOL, the stereotype is it’s going to be a lot of Spanish-speakers, but we only get a few. One ESOL professor had 12 people in his class and none were from the same country. 
What is the schedule for the classes and how many people can come?
We’re holding it every night downtown from 4:30 to 6. The first book will take four weeks and we can take 12 people in that location. ... They can register by emailing and calling (206-8161, We want to make sure they have at least a sixth-grade [reading] level, in order to do well and not feel like they are in over their head. It’s  just a reading simple paragraph. They would come to the college and see me, or go downtown to take the test at 889 Elm St. 
How can people get help if their reading level isn’t high enough?
We have a list of different organizations that have ESL classes and we would send them to one of those. Most of the time, to Manchester School of Technology because we have a great working relationship with them. — Rebecca Fishow 
As seen in the July 31, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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