The Impact of English Classes at Los Pibes Community Center

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By Robert Benjamin

 The community center in the neighborhood of La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where community members come to participate in a variety of programs, one of which is English classes, taught twice a week by volunteer tutors from English-speaking countries. The volunteer coordinator  as well as three English students were recently asked to explain what it means to them to study English. Interviewing the English Workshop Coordinator Community Center  Name: Johan Age: 25 From: Peru What impact do you think Los Pibes has on its members? The community center benefits the entire community. For example, there are a lot of older people who are out of work, but thanks to this community center, they have work to do, instead of staying at home all the time. It changes their lives. They get to do things to help other people; coming to the community center can improve everything about a person, including their physical and mental health. How do you think the students benefit from the English classes here? Johan: Taking English classes allows you to get to know another language and culture and is a place for people to come together. English can help you get a good job. Many employers around here ask if you speak English, especially those related with tourism. English can also be beneficial socially, as it allows you to make friends from all over the world. English teachers also benefit by practicing their Spanish and experiencing the differences between cultures. Interviewing Three Participants in the English Workshop

Name: Marcos Age: 35 From: Peru Occupation: Street Vendor Name: Gustavo Age: 25 From: Peru Occupation: Supermarket Worker Name: Shamila Age: 16 From: Argentina Occupation: Student

Why do you come to learn English? Gustavo: I want to be able to communicate with English-speakers from other countries.At work, sometimes English customers come in and ask me where a certain food is. I like to be able to point them in the right direction. I want to be able to communicate better with the English-speaking customers at the grocery store so I can do a better job helping them find what they need. I would also like to be able to assist tourists who ask me for directions in English and be able to understand English on TV. Marcos: I like to study English out of general curiosity and an interest in the language. I would like to be able to communicate and converse with people in Argentina and all over the world who speak English. Shamila: I like the language, and I also believe it will help me to find better job opportunities in the future. English is fundamental for finding work here, and I would also like to visit New York and be able to speak English for that purpose as well. English classes here at Los Pibes help me with my schoolwork too. I can come here to learn new things about the language that I don’t learn in school, and to correct errors that I’ve made on my schoolwork.

What would you do if you couldn’t study English here at Los Pibes? Gustavo: If this place weren’t here, I wouldn’t study English because other places I could go to study are too far away and I wouldn’t be able to fit it into my busy schedule. Marcos: I would have to study myself, but it is much better to study with foreign teachers because they can teach you the correct way to phrase and pronounce things. It would be very difficult to study alone. Shamila: The other options for studying English outside of school aren’t practical for me given my location and busy schedule. 

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