For people who have spoken English as their main language all of their lives, the answers to the above questions come easily.
For people attempting to learn English as their second tongue, however, coming up with the answers to the questions posed in a foreign vocabulary is more difficult.
A new English as Second Language (ESL) class at Trinity Lutheran Church in Alta is helping Spanish-speaking citizens of the community improve their skills in the native vernacular of most residents of town, and the course has received an enthusiastic response from several members of the community.
Held from 7 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday night in a room adjacent to the fellowship hall in the basement of the church, the students are being team taught by Storm Lake High ESL instructor Beth Lietz and community volunteer Ginni Cook, and both say they are elated to help lead such a class in an accessible location in Alta.
"We're excited to have it here in Alta where people can reach it," Cook said. "Before this, everything was in Storm Lake, and many could not go to those classes because of problems with transportation and finding child care. Having this here in Alta has given those who could not find transportation or child care a way to take the class here in town where they are also close to their children. It's a very exciting development."
"The adults who come to this class want to learn English, and it's exciting to be able to give them this opportunity to do that," Lietz said. "The students have been very enthusiastic about this so far, and we're able to help them learn the language from the very beginning."
The class, which began on Feb. 12, had six students the first evening, and had three pupils who were able to make it last Tuesday night. The focus of the course is what Lietz termed "survival English," which concentrates on basic words and phrases needed to communicate effectively with others in everyday situations.
"Survival English is a very big part of this class," Lietz said. "We want to be able to teach them the alphabet, employment vocabulary, personal communication, different words they can use for grocery shopping, and other terms such as days of the week, months and seasons. That's the biggest goal for us right now. We want to build from the foundation up."
The students worked on many of those skills last Tuesday, as they sounded out the vowels in English, spelled their first and last names in the new language and used a variety of picture books to help connect words such as "dog" and "carrot" with the visual images of each of those objects in the English language.
Read the rest of this story in the 2/21/02 Pilot Tribune.