Teaching ESL over Zoom – an update from Sr. Joyce Ann Rezac, ND

When some people were bored last March because they had to stay at home due to the pandemic, I was super busy learning how to teach on Zoom. I had a few days to learn how to do Zoom and get my low-level English speakers online. I had 8 students who accepted the challenge. A couple only were able to use their phones and call in. It was a great learning curve for all of us.

I have been teaching ESL at Center for Adult Learning in Loveland from August 2001 to May 2020. Because of having to move the school, loss of funding, and COVID-19, the Center for Adult Learning closed. I asked God, “How am I to serve”? The passion for teaching remained.

That is when I began ministering to individuals through a newer nonprofit. I now teach adults to learn English as their second language in Loveland, Colorado at House of Neighborly Service. It is a one-stop-shop in terms of services for those in need – language classes, housing, food pantries, clothing drives, etc. I am happy to use a room twice a week to teach English.

The present students are from 21 to 70 years old. Their reasons for wanting to learn English vary from using English on their jobs, helping their children, wanting to communicate with their grandchildren, to wanting to keep their brain active. We have formed a community where they care about each other and notice when someone is gone. Some have made close friendships and are supporting each other. They are all so grateful for the opportunity to learn English. I truly receive more than I can give. We are sharing a journey together and learning from each other. We can share our laughter and tears. Sometimes it’s like a comedy routine. The words that the students hear as the same are interesting.

For example: beard. I say, “beard.” Someone says, “ isn’t that a pajaro”? I say, “No that’s a bird.” Another says, “ isn’t that an oso”? I say,” No, that’s a bear.” Another says, “ isn’t that cerveza”? I say, “No, that’s beer.” Now what were we talking about?

  • Beard
  • Bird
  • Bear
  • beer

Respect and caring for each other are a part of our time together. It is awesome how they help each other. As long as God continues this passion in me, I hope to continue serving as an ESL teacher.

My other way of serving is with the elderly. Even though some of the elderly have family in town, they can feel lonely or left out because their children are busy with their families. Right now, phone calls are the best way of connecting. But sometimes, they need to see someone. Care centers are still on lockdown. So, I have taken another person with me to stand outside the window while we talk on the phone. So, there is a way to connect with others. They really appreciate seeing someone in person. Sometimes I have delivered cookies that one person made to several others. I spend Sundays with another so she can get out of the house as we get curbside food. We also drove to Pine Bluff, Wyoming and back just to get out of the house. Others can’t get out of the room, so we get out of the room by stories, memories, and hopes. I feel honored to be a part of their life’s journey. Again, I receive much more than I can give.