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12/19/2013 8:43:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 

Submitted photo
DeWayne and JoAnn Hess, first and second from the right, watch as a student of the English classes “Daily Dose” receives a certificate. The Hesses teach these classes to several students around the Valley, a total of 48 lessons in situational and conversational English.
English and Español crossing paths

Sebastian Moraga
Staff writer

Part one of two

This 'Dose' is just what the doctor ordered. And the nurse, the electrician, the housewife and the orchard worker, too.

"Daily Dose," an English-learning program engineered and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is gathering momentum in the Wenatchee Valley among Hispanic adults.

"I work at Blue Bird in Peshastin," said Demetrio, 31, a student for about six weeks. "And I need to speak better."

The program teaches English focusing on situation and conversation rather than grammar and syntax, "so that our students can have more confidence and more ability that will assist them in their work and their every day lives," said DeWayne Hess, a volunteer instructor along with his wife JoAnn.

Classes occur in Wenatchee, Chelan, the Leavenworth-Peshastin-Dryden area, and Cashmere.

Volunteer instructors like the Hesses meet with the students about once a week for as long as it takes to make it through the 48 lessons. Lessons last up to one hour each time, with the first 12 lessons occurring at the student's home to help create a rapport between student and teacher. Demetrio is on lesson 6 -shopping for clothes--, and his classmates are his wife and his wife's sister.

On this day, Demetrio is the only student. His wife is at the doctor, so the lesson on what to say at the doctor probably came in handy. Each lesson ends with a bit of homework for the next one.

"As we progress, Demetrio is going to be challenged more and more until we get to the end," DeWayne said.

Sometimes, the homework "backfires." At a different student's home, the Hesses assigned writing a letter in English to them and mailing it from the post office. The student replied, "Fine. But you have to write a letter en Español, and send it to me."

One of the current challenges is improving pronunciation. Spanish-speaking English learners tend to add sounds to their elocutions. Stop becomes "estop," Spanish becomes "Espanish,"

"That's a very hard thing for Spanish-speaking people to get away from," said DeWayne, whose childhood nickname 'Skippy,' became 'Eskeepy' for his Hispanic friends growing up.

Still, the group has fun, JoAnn said. If a student says "Estop," DeWayne unfurls his Spanish skills and asks, "Que es 'Estop?'"

"It's not like we go, 'You better learn this,'" she said. "It's more like, 'Let's see what we can do together today.'

A resident of the U.S. for 14 years, Demetrio says he is learning now what he couldn't when he was younger. Some students in "Daily Dose" have been in America for three months, while others have been here for three decades.

"They can't speak English because they are submerged in Spanish," JoAnn said.

After 48 lessons, some students speak fluent English. One in particular, an electrician, told DeWayne, "Now I can get more work."

Sometimes the triumphs are a bit more subtle, like reading a menu in a restaurant with no trouble, or to communicate to JoAnn that the restaurant's pollo frito is nothing like what they serve back home in Monterrey.

"That's a thrill to us," DeWayne said. "It's kind of a father watching children grow and watching them do things. That's how you feel."

Classes are free and open to everyone wanting to learn, regardless of expertise, understanding or creed. Demetrio's family is Catholic.

"We are all brothers and sisters," said DeWayne, who starts every lesson with a prayer. "Our personal reasons to be here on earth are to grow and to learn and to be better people. In order to accomplish that, we need to help one another, lift one another up and not just my wife and my family, but all people."

Next month, we will cover the English classes for adults at Vale Elementary.

Sebastian Moraga can be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com



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