Shrewsbury Library receives grant for English learning program


Shrewsbury-large-web-iconShrewsbury – The New Year began with great news for the Shrewsbury Public Library, as it procured a $4,000 discretionary grant from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation (GWCF) for the English Conversation Circle program. This is the fourth year the library has been offering the program and the second year in a row that the library has been the recipient of a GWCF grant. The grant will help continue the popular program through 2014.

The free English Conversation Circle program is for adult learners who wish to practice speaking English in an encouraging environment. There are four sessions a week – two for beginners and two for intermediate learners – facilitated by experienced and dedicated teachers.

The beginner's class is held Thursdays from 5-6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10:30-11:30 a.m. The intermediate class is held Tuesdays from 2-3 p.m. and Wednesdays 5-6 p.m. The spring session will begin the first week of March.

The Conversation Circle is a forum for new immigrants to meet people, make friends, learn about American culture, and share stories about their own culture. Participating in the Conversation Circle helps them acclimate to American society; gain confidence to go to school and pursue formal training; seek employment; and become productive members of the community.

“The English Conversation Circle serves as one of the most important–perhaps even the most vital–functions for those who are new to our country,” facilitator Katherine Johnson said. “As our new residents become confident in using English, they are able to bound into the worlds of friendship, commerce, driving, and securing solid employment.”

Immigrants from different parts of the world, who have settled in Shrewsbury and the surrounding towns, have attended the Conversation Circle. Participants have been from countries such as China, India, Japan, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Italy, and Syria.

“Our English Conversation Circle provides a place for people to make connections while they become more comfortable speaking,” facilitator Lea Hench explained. “I’ve seen the friendships that have developed and the advice given that's made a difference in the lives of the participants. Often we’re a jumping-off point to where they’re going, and that's good, too. Whatever it is that makes adjusting to our country and culture easier is a gift we share with our newcomers.”

Anyone interested in joining the conversation can call the library at 508-842-0081, ext. 2 or 3, to sign up. The library is located at 609 Main St.