By Greta Petry (November 30, 2007)
UAlbany, CSEA, BOCES Collaborate on ESOL Classes
Liliana Pulaha moved to the U.S. from Albania with her husband and two children four years ago. Today, she works on the custodial staff of Dutch Quad residence hall at the University at Albany.
On a recent Monday afternoon, she was going over the simple present tense with her classmates during her English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) class, which is held at the University's new Grounds Building.
Pulaha's instructor, Anya Zaderej, an ESOL teacher for Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School, moved here from Ukraine two years ago. "It makes it easier for the class because they know I am one of them," said Zaderej. "There are great students in that class, and I love them all."
In addition to Albania, the afternoon class has students who hail from China, Chile, Jamaica, and Mexico. A second class is offered in the evening, and the students in this class are from Poland and Albania.
"I am coming here for more language," said Pulaha, whose son Florian is in college and whose daughter Adela is in high school.
Zaderej asked Pulaha to read her assignment, a story about her everyday life. "In the afternoon we go to visit Albanian friends," she read out loud.
"I like your grammar," encouraged Zaderej. "Very good job."
The New York State & CSEA Partnership for Education and Training, Capital Region BOCES, and the Office of Human Resources at UAlbany joined together to offer the classes.
"We saw a need for this type of class because many people in our custodial workforce are learning English as they adjust to living in the United States and working at the University," said Assistant Director of Custodial Services Jennifer Watson.
Watson and her staff contacted the Office of Human Resources Management and Personnel Associate Lynne Shultis, who, with CSEA Local President David Harrison, worked with staff from NYS/CSEA Partnership and BOCES to obtain funding and develop a curriculum for an ESOL class tailored to the University's needs.
The classes were offered on a voluntary basis. Gary Bartolina of NYS/CSEA Partnership hoped for a maximum of 15 students in the day class, and another 15 students in the evening class. Both the day and evening classes have 17 students, and there is a wait list.
Shultis said, "The classes are a complete success. It is just great to see the enthusiasm and commitment to learning English - plus our employees are thrilled the University is doing this for them."
"And it was all possible because Custodial Services Management and the Office of Human Resources Management worked with CSEA to make attending the classes easy for the students; CSEA found funding during a tough year; and BOCES brought their expertise in curriculum design and found two excellent instructors," said Harrison.
The classes will run twice a week, ending
in May. For more information visit
Region BOCES Adult Education ESOL.