The Volunteer Center of Madison County’s Language Bank is Expanding Services

Enrolling a child in school; conversing with the family physician, a police officer, or a school teacher; and filling out forms or applications are all common enough activities in the United States, but they can be daunting activities for those who speak little or no English. How easy must it be for a non-English speaker to become isolated as a result of a linguistic disparity? This is where the Volunteer Language Bank helps local citizens.

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(PRWEB) June 28, 2007

Enrolling a child in school; conversing with the family physician, a police officer, or a school teacher; and filling out forms or applications are all common enough activities in the United States, but they can be daunting activities for those who speak little or no English. How easy must it be for a non-English speaker to become isolated as a result of a linguistic disparity? This is where the Volunteer Language Bank helps local citizens.

The Volunteer Center’s Language Bank Program is stepping up to bridge that gap. We have 114 volunteers from various cultures, professions, and walks of life, both native and non-native English speakers, all of whom desire to share their multilingual ability to help those in need. The Language Bank supports Madison County's social service and non-profit agencies, schools, and state-funded medical offices with volunteer interpreters representing 30 languages. Language Bank volunteers will soon translate Burritt on the Mountain’s audio museum tour into Spanish, German, French, Portuguese and 27 other languages.

The Language Bank Advisory Board has developed goals to build more relationships with the community. One project in development is a volunteer-run ESL program. The goal of this program is to provide a series of basic English classes to non-native speakers with limited or no English speaking abilities. The Language Bank will be recruiting and training volunteer instructors in the near future, and we hope that the first of the two-month classes will commence by September, 2007.

In the future, Language Bank volunteers will initiate a tutoring/interpreting program for Spanish speaking students experiencing difficulties in school as a result of limited English comprehension. Successful native Spanish speakers from the community who learned English as a 2nd language speak with students about how learning English has benefited them and aided in their success, and we hope to develop, with the partnership of local companies, an internship program for non-English speaking students. Students would work with a bilingual company employee in an area of interest. It is our hope that this program can provide a source of encouragement for participating students to remain in school and learn to speak English. Additionally, the Language Bank is developing a youth outreach program that will be designed to be culturally diverse so that participants may learn about other participants’ cultures and languages through socialization and activities. Finally, the Language Bank has recently begun to facilitate classes in beginners’ level, basic Spanish which have been successful and well-received so far, and we have in place a volunteer interpreters’ bank available by telephone to the Huntsville Police Department which will potentially be available to other emergency services in the future.

If you are fluent in English and at least one other language and are interested in volunteerism, please contact:
Pam Cox
Volunteer Programs Manager
The Volunteer Center of Madison County
Phone: 539-7797
http://www.volunteerhsv.org

The Volunteer Center of Madison County is the premier connection between volunteers and community needs. We partner with the community to mobilize volunteers and provide solutions to local challenges. We build the capacity of partner agencies -– United Way and Combined Federal Campaign –- to involve and manage volunteers and to address local needs through volunteering. Created in 1969 as a clearing-house to link new volunteers with non-profit organizations, the Volunteer Center believes that only people can solve community problems.

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