Photo Essay: Colvin makes language learning fun

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S
itting slightly off Kansas Avenue in Liberal, the Colvin Adult Learning Center is easy to miss. The plain white building has no distinguishing features to draw the attention of those passing by. It doesn’t need it though, the magic happens inside.

Students come from Liberal and surrounding communities for adult basic education needs. Most attend for the English as a Second Language course. Laughter is the glue that holds the Seward County Community College annex campus together. It echoes throughout the halls and mixes with the phonetic sounds of the ABCs. Smiles abound, as encouragement is freely given by instructors and students.

Step inside to experience a normal Monday night of English classes at Colvin.

Daniela Phaton
Victoria Bangs provides a visual learning experience for beginning English students. Most of the students speak Spanish but Bangs doesn’t allow it to be spoken in her class, in an effort to get as much English practice as possible. One of the best ways for beginner students to connect a meaning with a vocabulary word is by acting it out or using pictures. There are three levels of English offered at the Colvin Adult Learning Center — basic, intermediate and advanced.

Calen Moore
The Colvin Adult Learning Center is a place where adults go to learn. Around 280 students are enrolled in classes that range from GED, to Work Readiness, to English as a Second Language. The goal of this learning center is to provide opportunities for community members to improve their quality of life through education. Classes are offered during the morning and evening as a way to reach more people within the community.

AJ Gomez
Jesus Quintana and Anita Mason share a brief joke during the Intermediate English night class. This moment came after Quintana corrected a mistake made in English. Students say having a sense of humor about messing up words and phrases is the best way to learn a new language. Instructors do whatever they can to get students speaking. The more they speak, the faster language acquisition happens.

AJ Gomez
In the beginners English class, students color different types of nouns based on what they describe. Purple described places, red described people and pink described ambiguous things.

Daniela Phaton
More than “just English” is taught in the language classes. Students learn about history, politics, traffic signs and other subjects as part of their course work. These other subjects are discussed as a way to learn about everyday life in southwest Kansas.

Calen Moore
Christian Robles hops out of her chair to race to the board. The advanced English class competed in a vocabulary game that involved running to the board and writing the correct answer to questions from the instructor, Amy Thompson. Activities such as this, Thompson said, helps students have fun while practicing their language skills.

AJ Gomez
Saul Alonso flips a coin, trying to not land on “heads” during a game in the intermediate English class. In this game, if students landed on “heads,” they had to sight read a passage and then repeat the passage without looking. Colvin instructor Anita Mason explained that the exercise helps with memory retention.

AJ Gomez
Victoria Bangs helps beginner level students understand words by performing gestures to understand words. The word she depicts — wings — is emphasized by outstretched arms and flying around the room like an airplane.

Daniela Phaton
A student glances over his vocab sheet to guess what word his instructor is acting out. Around 200 students are enrolled in the English as a Second Language class at Colvin. Students advance from one class to the next. It’s not uncommon for students to take the same level several times so they feel more comfortable in the new language.

Calen Moore
Lupita Zapata spells her name on the whiteboard as part of an interviewing exercise. Colvin language instructors use a wide variety of teaching methods to help students retain English and practice the new language through reading, writing and conversing.

Calen Moore
Advanced English students try to define the word “cosmetology.” One student said, “To make your face better.” The rest of the class erupted in laughter. Struggling with words and definitions is all part of learning a new language. Doing it together in the safety of a Colvin English class adds a sense of comradery for students and instructors. Mistakes are laughed off and milestones are celebrated.

Daniela Phaton
When class is over, students weave their way through the small building to exit. The walls of Colvin are decorated with projects by students. This one features short poems and serves as a reminder of one of the learning center’s goals — to help adults continue on with college level courses at the main SCCC campus.