In my role as a Literacy Coordinator at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Conversation Club has been the greatest way for me to get to know learners on a personal level and really see their personality shine through. Conversational skills are often a struggle for second language learners who are suddenly thrust into an environment of native English speakers. That is why I love providing an opportunity for these learners to not only practice conversation with other English language learners, but also native English speakers. That’s why volunteer involvement is so important to the goals of Conversation Club.
In the first hour of our virtual meetings, we have general discussion and activities related to the theme of the week. In the second hour, we split off into breakout rooms and interview a partner with a set of questions before returning to the full group to present.
This semester, Hannah Klepal came to us from Davenport University’s Occupational Therapy program to complete a Service-Learning Project. She began by joining in on the conversation and leading breakout rooms, and then took the initiative and decided to create and facilitate a lesson of her own. The theme she chose was “daily routines,” a major focus in her area of study. This turned out to be a great time for everyone to learn more about each other while comparing and contrasting our daily lives.
Hannah has shown that that time and investment in community literacy is an amazing opportunity for all young professionals, not just those going into teaching. Hannah said, "I would recommend to anyone going into the healthcare field to do an internship with The Literacy Center. Working with English learners challenges your communication skills in a new way, and it teaches you a lot about yourself and your own assumptions and biases. It really challenges you to strategically communicate, while interacting with people who are different from you. It is a humbling and challenging experience that will make you a better future healthcare practitioner."
To learn more about how you can get involved in Conversation Club, visit https://literacycenterwm.org/learn.