Student Spotlight: Alberto and Lizeth

Alberto and Lizeth, a couple in LIFT’s English As a Second Language (ESL) Level One class, are working towards the same goal: to improve their English skills to overcome barriers they face in their daily lives. They often rely on their 9-year-old son to help them with basic tasks, such as ordering at restaurants or translating documents from his school. They know they will not always be able to rely on him, so they enrolled in the ESL class at Texas Capital Bank’s west Dallas branch to increase their English proficiency. Even though they are in the same level class, they do not have the same kind of experience with learning English.

Alberto has taken English classes before, but he says that his experience with English classes at LIFT has been better than at previous classes elsewhere. He feels that the teachers are accommodating and that the schedule of the classes is very flexible. Even though he knows many people find learning a new language challenging, he says, “With the right teacher, you can overcome that obstacle.” The immediate benefits of his improved English skills are proven at his job.

Alberto works at a restaurant at Trinity Groves, close to his English classes. He would speak very little with customers because he did not feel confident enough to interact more with them. However, this has quickly changed, and he feels more comfortable speaking with customers and even has conversations with them. “I see the benefits of improving my English in my tips. A customer even left me a note saying, “Good job” on my English skills,” Alberto says.

Lizeth also works in the service industry as a hairstylist. They both express the importance of communicating with customers for good service. While Alberto had prior English knowledge, Lizeth started off with only the bare minimum. She describes her fear of doing things in public by herself, such as asking for help at stores, or even ordering something in English. She feels she is gaining confidence as well as the courage to do these things without Alberto’s or her son’s help. She has also benefited from English at her job. Lizeth says, “I am taking more clients because of my improved English. I no longer limit myself to Spanish-speaking clients.”

The couple practices their English together outside of class to gain more confidence in speaking with others and to improve their skills. They have learned a great amount in their brief time at LIFT and hope to continue to the next level to learn and improve their English.

Inspiring Story: LIFT helps mother overcome obstacle of communicating with son’s caregivers

Imagine having a son with Down Syndrome and not being able to communicate with his therapist. This is the challenge Juana faced after her move to the United States. On top of that, she had to give up her career as a math teacher because of the language barrier she faced. These obstacles led her to pursue English classes so she could communicate her concerns and questions to the people who support her son.

Juana attended other ESL classes before coming to LIFT. She says, “In other classes I’ve attended, the teachers did not form a personal relationship with you. Here, you get treated differently, and the teachers actually try to get to know you.” At LIFT, she also gained the confidence to do something she always feared: speaking English out loud. “I used to be intimidated to speak out loud because of my accent. Now, I have more confidence to practice with others, such as my teacher and my husband. Even my son’s therapist says that I am improving quickly.”

As a student in the level one program, Juana started off knowing only the very basics of the English language. Now she can have full conversations confidently and proudly. Juana says she is very grateful to have found a program like LIFT and even recommends it to all her friends who struggle with the same issues.

Juana’s background in teaching has made her an engaged and active learner. She says her goal is to one day be able to speak English well enough to become a teacher in the U.S. On days when she feels less motivation than usual, Juana says she is reminded of her teacher’s advice. “She told us to put something up in our home that reminds of our goal. I put a picture of my son on our fridge. Every time I look at the picture of my son, I am reminded of who I am working to better myself for.” 

Since 1961, LIFT has provided thousands of adults like Juana with the supportive classroom environment and extra help they need to achieve their educational goals.  With your support, we can transform thousands of more lives.  Here is how you can help:

  • Make a donation to our 2018 Annual Fund Campaign before December 31, 2018.  Our goal is $25,000. Your donation of any amount will help provide LIFT’s adult learners with the support, program, ing and inspiration they need to achieve their educational goals and improve their lives. Click here to donate.
  • Spread the word.  If circumstances do not currently allow you to participate in our campaign through a donation, you can still help by spreading the word about LIFT.  Forward this email to your friends.  Follow us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram, and share our Annual Fund Campaign posts with your social media network.

Inspiring Story: LIFT student survives, thrives after devastating loss of husband

The unexpected death of her husband made Gwendolyn a widow at 50-years-old and created an overwhelming challenge:  finding a way to earn an income and support her two children with limited literacy skills.  When Gwendolyn was younger, schools were totally different than they are now.  Students who did not “catch on” were laughed at and judged by the other students, and sometimes even the teachers.  Students were also pushed through to the next grade level even if they didn’t know how to read.

At LIFT, Gwendolyn found a much different learning environment than what she experienced in high school.  The teachers offered to stay after class or meet one-on-one if a student wasn’t understanding the material.  They also provided Gwendolyn and the other adult learners with their email addresses and phone numbers in case they had questions about the material after they got home. 

 “The teachers at LIFT take their time and give you extra help.  They stay after class with you and give you their contact information if you have questions,” she explained.  “No question is dumb.  They don’t make you feel like you are dumb.  Even though you have been told that your whole life, you know it’s not true.”

Importantly, there was no judgement or ridicule at LIFT.

“When I first came to LIFT, I was afraid because people judge other people who don’t know something,” explained Gwendolyn. “But the teachers didn’t judge me.  They could see that I was trying and told me that the learning wouldn’t all happen overnight.”

Gwendolyn is now in LIFT’s High School Equivalency (HSE) Prep program and thinking about her educational plans post-LIFT.  Her daughter and son are both in high school, and both A-Honor role students enrolled in AP classes.  Her kids tell her they are proud of her and want to take care of her when she is older. Gwendolyn has other plans. 

“I see all the commercials about people going to college and graduating, and I want that,” she said.  “My kids say they will take care of me, but I don’t want that.  I want to take care of myself.”

Since 1961, LIFT has provided thousands of adults like Gwendolyn with the supportive classroom environment and extra help they need to achieve their educational goals.  With your support, we can transform thousands of more lives.  Here is how you can help:

  • Make a donation to our 2018 Annual Fund Campaign before December 31, 2018.  Our goal is $25,000. Your donation of any amount will help provide LIFT’s adult learners with the support, programming and inspiration they need to achieve their educational goals and improve their lives. Click here to donate.
  • Spread the word.  If circumstances do not currently allow you to participate in our campaign through a donation, you can still help by spreading the word about LIFT.  Forward this email to your friends.  Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and share our Annual Fund Campaign posts with your social media network.