Written by: Edward Y., Adult Services Manager
For many years, Round Rock Public Library has partnered with the Williamson County Literacy Council to offer free ESL classes to our immigrant neighbors. One in six Texans is an immigrant from another country, and RRPL is glad to offer a welcoming and helpful environment to those folks learning English! Very recently, there’s been some shakeups and changes to this longstanding pillar of RRPL’s services.
In our new building, which opened January 28th of 2023, we fortunately added larger and more numerous classroom and workspaces as compared to our previous location. One such room on the 1st floor is our Literacy Classroom, dedicated to ESL classes Monday through Friday. Held mornings, afternoons, and Tuesday evenings, these classes are so popular that the volunteers and other tutors running them decided they must require registration at the beginning of each typical school semester, (September for the autumn, January for the late winter/spring semester). So many people were showing up to these classes that even our larger room could not accommodate them, and sadly many people were regularly turned away. Registration now secures a student’s spot throughout the semester. So, if you or someone you know could benefit from ESL, be sure to check back in late December on the library’s website where we’ll advertise when to come by and register. Registration is in-person at the library only, we’ll have signs weeks ahead telling people when they can register as well.
There are three levels of ESL classes at the library: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. All of the classes are only taught in English, with coursework and daily instruction offered that matches the students’ abilities. Many prospective students assume they need the beginner class, but quickly find out they know more than they realized, and switch to the Intermediate or Advanced to get more for their time.
And as you can imagine, all these classes and services are challenging to organize and conduct. Training multiple volunteer teachers, negotiating conflicting schedules, registering and communicating with students; all of it requires some administration hours per week. And sadly, the WILCO Literacy Council has been forced to close its doors, no longer able to operate with an increasingly shrinking budget. The tutors, led by retired RRPL librarian and volunteer stalwart Bonnie Horowitz, are still dedicated and continue to teach their classes for the students already registered for Fall 2023, but there’s a real need to find an administrator to coordinate future classes. Bonnie has acted for many months as the de facto manager of these non-profit activities, but she needs someone to come learn from her and take on those duties soon.
So, today’s RRPL blog is as much an appeal for help as an ode to one of our services. If you think you or someone you know have the time available, (3-4 hours per week most likely) and the interest and dedication to help our intrepid Central Texas immigrants assimilate and learn the local lingo, we need a new volunteer to train under Bonnie and become the next ESL coordinator at Round Rock Public Library. If you’re interested or simply want to find out more, contact Ed Young at 512-218-7008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.