Fung came to Michigan as a refugee in 2012. Having studied some English in school in Burma, she had learned the basics of the language, but found it difficult to understand people here. After seeing her husband succeed in our programs, she came to the Literacy Center in 2019. She was eager to improve her speaking and writing skills and gain enough confidence with her English to support her children in school. Fung was soon paired with a tutor, Sarabeth.
The pair only had 6 months of in-person meetings before COVID-19 pandemic interrupted in-person learning. Like most tutoring pairs, Sarabeth and Fung started connecting over the phone and through video chat to try to keep up on Fung’s learning. Fung said the switch to virtual studying was tough for many reasons. She said she feels it’s easier to lose time online with a bad connection or waiting for a page to load. Her children also had to do virtual learning for much of the pandemic.
Now, Fung has gotten the hang of pandemic learning. Besides keeping up on virtual tutoring, Fung and her family have come up with another way to regularly study: her 9-year-old daughter has become Fung’s at-home English teacher! Fung laughed heartily when asked if she’s a good student in her daughter’s class. She said her daughter is a “very tough” teacher. Sarabeth is encouraging, Fung said, while her daughter is quick to point out all of her mistakes.
Her kindergartner has also joined in on the fun. Now that she’s back to in-person learning, she brings home 5 books each week from school to read with her mom, and quizzes Fung on her own homework questions. “When I read with her, it’s my study time, too,” Fung said. After dinner, while her daughters have downtime, Fung continues studying on Burlington English as homework for her tutoring sessions.
Fung’s dedication and Sarabeth’s guidance have paid off. Within her first year of study with the Literacy Center, Fung advanced a level on her listening test. Her next goal is to do the same in reading. She is determined: “I want to speak fluently.” She hopes to eventually study hospitality management at GRCC. “Fung is eager to learn and is very appreciative of our time together even on the phone or computer,” Sarabeth said. Fung’s advice to other parents who are trying to study is simple. It’s easy to make excuses, she said, especially as parents, “our reason is: we don’t have time to study.” She insisted that parents try to see every interaction as a learning opportunity, “We are talking with our kids, so we can learn!”