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December 20, 2019

Volunteer Offer of Help Leads to ESL Class for Patients

Every once in a while a volunteer will contact us wishing to give back.  This year Maggy Boone met Brenda Storey, MNHC’s Executive Director, at an event and offered her time to teach patients English as a Second Language (ESL).

Although most of the staff at MNHC speaks Spanish, patients often wish to develop their English language skills. Working together, Carlos Minaya, MPH Patient Navigator and Outreach Coordinator, and Maggy, who had previous experience teaching ESL in other settings, set out to assess the needs of the patients. They sought answers from staff and patients as to whether patients wished to learn conversational English, reading and writing, how to translate forms or some combination of the three.

The free classes, part of a pilot program, were held for an hour for six weeks. Participants were recruited from the clinic and community by word of mouth and notices in MNHC clinics.  The structure of the class was focused on the group’s needs; Maggy’s past experience was crucial in putting together practical lessons that met those needs.

The goal is to offer the classes on a permanent basis.  Possible collaborations with local colleges are being investigated to be able to offer an ongoing free program for MNHC patients to continue to improve their language skills.

“In addition to Maggy, we would love to have a cadre of teachers who can offer ESL on an ongoing basis,” said Carlos. “It’s another way we can meet our patients’ needs.  And, they loved the class so it makes sense to continue.”

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