ESL and MIIS students in a previous class at Hartnell gather after the ESL students received their certificates of completion from MIIS. (Contributed)

SALINAS — Hartnell College invites Spanish speakers who are learning English to join a free in-person class that will connect them with international graduate students working to improve their Spanish and learn about Latino American culture.

This language-exchange class, called English and Spanish in the Community (ESL 639), will meet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday from now until May 21 on Hartnell’s Main Campus in Salinas. It is being offered jointly by Hartnell and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey.

The MIIS students come to Hartnell for the class.

The Spanish-speaking students should already have English skills at the intermediate or advanced level, but with room for improvement. The class is focused on speaking and listening, both in English and in Spanish, as students answer each other’s questions and share experiences.

The registration deadline for the non-credit class is Feb. 5. For questions or to register, email Hartnell ESL instructor Kathleen Slattery at [email protected].

All students in the class will share not just language but also information about their lives and cultures through entertaining conversational activities, said Slattery, who will co-teach with Dr. Gabriel Guillen of MIIS.

There is no assigned homework or exams for the ESL students, and no required textbook. Pairs of ESL and MIIS students will partner on a final project to be presented at MIIS, sharing what they’ve learned about the other person in their language of study.

The class offers an informal and encouraging setting for all the students, and especially for the ESL students, who might not otherwise have a natural opportunity for one-on-one conversation with a fluent English speaker, Slattery said.

“The conversation topics that Dr. Guillen has come up with are really fun and interesting,” she said. “They learn about each other and the students help with pronunciation, help with new vocabulary — and it’s all happening in a fun way.”

The Hartnell and MIIS students have much to share with one another, Slattery added.

“A lot of our students are fairly new immigrants, a lot of them are working, hard, and this is just a great opportunity,” she said. “Also, the MIIS students are very interesting. They’re really outstanding people, and they’ve done interesting things in their lives, like being in the Peace Corps and have traveled all over the world, and that is also a new and great thing for our students to be exposed to.”

Article submitted by Scott Faust, Communications Director for Hartnell College.

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