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Rukiya attends Avivo’s ESL program to learn English and find employment

“I don’t want to use a translator… I want to speak English,” says Rukiya, participant in Avivo’s ESL program for new Americans. “I want an apartment. I want to work. I want a job in an office in downtown Minneapolis.”

Rukiya is an immigrant from Somalia, and came to Avivo because she wanted to help her family become financially independent. She was ready to find a job, but had a significant roadblock to finding employment: she wasn’t able to speak or read English, and hadn’t yet learned how to read – in any language.

“I want an apartment. I want to work. I want a job in an office in downtown Minneapolis.”

“Rukiya brought a wealth of knowledge about things other than reading,” says Cora, one of Avivo’s ESL instructors. “She didn’t know names or letters or that letters make sounds. She was truly starting from square one.”

Cora and Rahmo, another of Avivo’s ESL instructors, worked with Rukiya to learn the basics of reading. The first step was to repeat the sounds of letters, and then blend them into the sounds of full words.

“She said the three sounds of the word ‘leg’ first, saying ‘L…E…G’ faster and faster, until she clearly said, “leg,” says Cora. “When we confirmed she’d said it correctly, her eyes widened, with a look of pride.

More than 230 class hours and several months later, Rukiya is on her way to being an English-speaker.

“English… it’s hard to learn,” says Rukiya. “Rahmo and Cora welcome me every day at class. Now, my writing and speaking is good.”

“I am from Somalia. I’ve lived in America for nearly 7 years,” says Rukiya – in English. “I live in St. Paul. The snow… is too much,” she adds as she describes where she lives.

Those words are significant, according to Rukiya’s instructors, when you consider how far Rukiya had to come in order to say them.

“English… it’s hard to learn,” says Rukiya. “Rahmo and Cora welcome me every day at class. Now, my writing and speaking is good.”

Now that Rukiya has grasped the basic concepts of reading, as well as learning English in the process, she’s ready to accomplish her goals – including finding full-time employment.

 

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