Newcomers Adjust to U.S one Word at a Time


As a foreigner, not knowing how to speak English can be one of the biggest barrier to one’s success. But, for those at the Dickinson Adult Resource Center, the road to learning English tends to be a lot easier. 

“Because I can improve my English, I can improve myself,” said Russian native Erena Malysheva
Erena moved to the United States last year. 
And when she did, the only English words she knew was yes and no. 
She says adjusting to America was difficult at first.
“It’s very difficult, it’s very hard,” said Erena. “The first time I’m crying because I don’t understand my grandson and son-in-law.”
Adjusting to life in America has been just as difficult for El Salvador native Salvador Rodriguez.
“Because of the language barrier. I wasn’t able to work as a auto mechanic in the U.S.”
Getting a license, talking with a doctor or even trying to get food at a grocery store, can be an even big issue if you don’t speak English. 
“It can be years and at one point, I was told that for fluency is easily 12 years,” instructor at the Dickinson Adult Resource Center Paula Loegering said.
Loegering says in the English language Program they try to work on the basics first. 
“We will start them with some very basic phonic and reading books and workbooks where maybe their just practicing the letters.”
She says the most effective tool for them is to just have a conversation.
“It’s the most helpful thing.”
And for Erena and Salvador, the resource center has made their lives a lot easier.
Erena can say more than just yes and no after months of work.
“If you repeat slow, I can understand. It’s easier right now,” Erena said.
And Salvador is much more confident in his English than he was before.
“Right now I’m getting to that point to have that confidence because they have helped me a lot.”
Loegering says the number students in the English language program tripled during the oil boom. She says they had to bring on more staff to deal with the increase.

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