Program Teaches Parents to be Tutors

ROWLAND HEIGHTS - A 10-year program that provides free English tutoring to adults and tips on how to tutor their children is getting parents into the classroom.

The Community Based English Tutoring Program has helped between 5,000 and 6,000 adults, mainly parents of Rowland Unified students, not only attaining English fluency, but learning life skills such as a communicating with school officials.

A result of the program is more parent involvement, which is widely embraced as way to help students do well academically, officials said.

"The parents are learning English and they are teaching their children English," said Rocky Bettar, director of adult education and career preparation at Rowland Unified. "They are helping them in areas they may be struggling in."

Bettar added that with increased fluency, parents can have conversations with teachers about any area they may need assistance in.

The program was established a decade ago with funding allocated to increase English language instruction for adults. It is offered at 13 of Rowland Unified's elementary schools.

The program was recently awarded a California Golden Bell, the program's 11th. It is a distinction given by the California School Boards Association.

The language fluency differs from each adult, making it harder for the teachers who may have multi-level students to teach, Bettar said.

Phonics and simple sentences are introduced in the basic class and then students are gradually eased into more advanced work.

An additional component of the program is teaching parents to tutor their own children if they are struggling with English. Prepacked books are organized based on grade level.

For the adults who attend the classes, which are offered four times a week, the program is seen as more than a way to increase adult literacy. It is also seen as a way of improving parent connections with their children.

Gloria Alverdin, the mother of four children, has been a diligent student at the program offered at La Seda Elementary School, which has she has been attending since March. She said her English before enrolling was poor. Because of that, Alverdin, who has lived in the United States for 16 years, did not interact with her children's teacher.

She enrolled in the after being approached by a La Seda Elementary staff member.

"I could not even ask the teacher how my daughter was doing. I was too embarrassed." she said. "Now, I feel more comfortable."

Even her children have noticed her improvement, and her teachers, including Takanashi, are proud of her accomplishments.

Bettar said overall, the has not only improved fluency but definitely has brought more parent involvement into the classes. Parents are signing up to be aides in the classes or officers in Parent Teacher associations.

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