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No delay in learning English

Colorado Mountain College/Special to the DailyAlmost 600 people take English as a second language classes at Colorado Mountain College's Edwards campus.
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VAIL ” Bao W. Zhang Grimord, a native of China, wants a degree in accounting. An American degree, that is ” she already got one in China.

But first she had to learn English.

She has advanced to college-level classes after taking English-as-a-second-language classes for eight months at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards.

It wasn’t easy, she said.

“There’s lots of vocabulary,” she said. “Pronunciation, that is hard.”

While many people across the country are turned away from English classes because of a lack of space, local language classes are meeting demand in Eagle County, officials say.

Enrollment has been steady, said Peggy Curry, dean of the Vail/Eagle Valley Campus in Edwards.

At the campus, 576 students are enrolled in English-as-a-second-language classes this spring. There were 610 last spring and 568 in spring of 2005.

Few students are turned away because of full classes, Curry said.

According to a study of 176 English-as-a-second-language providers across the country by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, more than half had waiting lists. Some waits were as long as three years.

The report also said few classes are available to intermediate or advanced English-as-a- second-language-students. Colorado Mountain College does offer upper-level classes.

English-as-a-second-language enrollment has been steady for about the last six years, said Jan Attoma, who has been teaching the class in Eagle County for 12 years

“When I came here, there were two classes,” Attoma said. “Now, there are 19.”

That increase came with an increase in jobs in the valley, Attoma said.

“Without a doubt, there’s work in this valley and that’s what’s bringing people here,” she said.

Now, affordable housing in the valley may be a limiting factor in keeping the enrollment numbers steady for the last few years, Attoma said.

Many students learn English to get better jobs; others are parents who want to be able to talk to their kids’ teachers or doctors, Attoma said.

The students range from 16-year-olds to people in their 60s, said Janet Rivera, another teacher.

“It’s much easier in general to teach adults than kids,” Rivera said.

Colorado Mountain College gets federal funding, via the state, for the English-as-a-second-anguage classes.

The college also gets money from a levy on property taxes in the county. That may be what allows the college to stay insulated from the backlogs that are plaguing other language programs, Rivera said.

The program also benefits from Eagle County’s well-educated population, from which it can draw good teachers, Curry said.

“We’ve been fortunate in the number of teachers we have,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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