Three days a week, Baldo gets up before dawn to attend an English class at 5 AM before his work shift begins. The two-hour class is held for Baldo and 20 of his colleagues at their workplace, Kent Companies.
Baldo’s English class is part of the Literacy Center’s Customized Workplace English program that provides customized classes on site at local companies and businesses. The classes are designed around the work that learners encounter at their job, and are offered at times that are convenient for the employees. For Baldo, this means coming to English class before his shift so that he can learn the English he needs communicate with other workers and succeed at his job.
When asked about his class, Baldo echoed the fears of many English language learners, “At first I had a hard time. Sometimes, I understood things, but I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t want to make a mistake in the class, with the other guys.” Recognizing these fears, particularly in a class of colleagues, the Literacy Center instructors work hard to foster a sense of trust within the classroom. Baldo says, “The teachers push us to speak, to make mistakes. I tell the guys in the class now – don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
Since first starting with English classes at Kent Companies, Baldo has been promoted to the foreman position. He no longer feels nervous when he needs to fill forms. Baldo has also seen advantages in other areas of this life. In fact, when Baldo had to take his daughter to the doctor earlier this year, he reported that he was able to talk to the doctor and understand almost everything. “No interpreter!” he emphasized proudly.
Baldo and his classmates will graduate from English training at the end of May. Kent Companies' administrators and supervisors are invited to attend a classroom presentation on the last day of class, providing them with an opportunity to see how their colleagues’ language skills have improved. The Literacy Center’s work continues to support people like Baldo accomplish their goals both in their workplace and in their everyday lives.