News & Blog: Learner Stories


Written by Carrie Roper, IET Coordinator

Sonia moved to West Michigan from her native Mexico in 2019, and found the Literacy Center soon thereafter. She wanted to practice her English to realize her goal of becoming a volunteer in the community. When Sonia tested too high for the Literacy Center’s services, she was referred to the drop-in English class we hosted at West Michigan Works.

At the drop-in class, Sonia learned about our Citizenship English classes. Sonia was able to audit the Citizenship Preparation ESL classes as she works towards becoming a citizen. She loved learning about the history of our country and culture, and stayed with the class as it switched from in-person to virtual meetings due to COVID-19.  

At the end of that class, Sonia heard about our CNA English class with Goodwill. Sonia registered and completed this class as well, both virtually and in-person for her clinicals. She loved how encouraging all of the instructors were, and she said she truly felt like her English was at a level to enter the workforce because of her hands-on experience. Sonia is looking forward to taking her state examination to become a nursing assistant.

But Sonia’s journey with the Literacy Center did not end there! Sonia heard about the new drop-in class: the virtual Conversation Club. Given her high level of English skills, the staff approached Sonia to become a volunteer tutor with the Conversation Club, instead of a learner. Sonia is currently volunteering with the Conversation Club, where she assists with facilitating discussions in smaller break- out rooms.

When asked about what she enjoys most about volunteering with the Conversation Club, Sonia shared that she understands how the learners feel about learning English. She is happy to help them on their own learning journeys, and enjoys meeting other people and learning about different cultures and countries. Her advice to new learners? Keep working hard at your goals, take opportunities even if you are not sure about your English level, and do not be afraid to make mistakes!

So what is next for Sonia?  She is planning on taking the tutor training to become a volunteer with the Adult Tutoring Program, while continuing to volunteer with the Conversation Club.

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