Student Profiles – January 2015

December 1st, 2014

Jan Metcalf currently tutors two students, Elva and Sandra.  She “interviewed” Elva and Sandra for this month’s Student Profile feature (a great way to practice speaking skills)!  If you would like to submit your student interview, email


Tutor and students

Left to right:  Sandra, Jan, and Elva

Elva came to the United States from El Salvador seven years ago, where she worked as a cashier and as a secretary.  She attended college for one year before moving to the United States.

When she moved to the U.S., she knew only a few words in English — according to her, “just the basics, hi, how are you.”  The most difficult thing about moving here was learning to live far away from her family. She came by herself and just wanted to stay at home because she could not say anything to anyone.   Elva is married now and has two children in elementary school.

Elva has been studying English for two years. “I like learning English because I meet other persons. I can understand when the doctor tells me something,” she says.  “I can find things in the grocery store.  I understand the news on TV sometimes.  I understand my kids better and can do homework.   I feel more independent.” She likes participating in the tutoring program because the class “helps me find the correct words, teaches me the best pronunciation.  I feel more confident now.”

One of Elva’s goals is to work for Montgomery County Public Schools some day, so she is studying hard to improve her English.

Sandra, a native of Mexico, came to live in the United States in 2000 to join her husband, was already living here.  In addition to her tutoring sessions with Jan, Sandra takes classes with the Linkages Program at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Silver Spring.  She has also participated in the Literacy Council’s English for Daily Living program.

When Sandra first came to the United States, she knew only a few words in English. “Everything was difficult for me then, because everything was so different from my country.  I didn’t feel confident to do anything.” Now after studying English for almost 6 years, Sandra is feeling more confident.  She says, “I can understand what people say.  I can explain what I need. It is easier to find things at the store. I think this country gives so many opportunities, you just need to be prepared.”  Learning English is the best way for Sandra to be prepared.

Sandra is proud of her two children, 13 year old daughter and a ten year old son.  Learning English has allowed her to help with their homework.  “I can review it with them. I feel better because I can talk with the teachers.” Both of her children grew up here and speak English, so they practice with her at home sometimes.

“I like sharing time with Elva and Jan.  It gives me an opportunity to practice my words and gives me more confidence.  We share different ideas, different opinions, and we laugh.   I like taking the class with another student because it is interactive and more interesting.”

Sandra’s goal is to find a job here doing something interesting where she can use her English to speak with others.

To read more about Jan Metcalf, click here.