[Libs-Or] Seeking advice toward starting an English conversation group

David Pauli David.Pauli at hillsboro-oregon.gov
Thu Jan 24 16:45:46 PST 2019

Hello,  We have a group at the Hillsboro Library called Everyday English.  I am a semi-retired part time librarian and I started this group about 2 and a half years ago at our central library.  We meet -every Sunday from 3 to 4.  We didn't do a survey to determine the best times, but this seems to be working well.  People come and go, based on their needs and things going on in their personal lives.  But we have what I consider to be excellent attendance.  Anywhere from 10 to about 20.  I would say the average is about 14.  We are fortunate to have a built in audience here in Hillsboro. Because of the high tech industry, there are foreign workers from all over the world.  I have had about 23 countries represented.  We try to keep the time consistent and that seems to be working.  It didn't take much time at all to get a robust attendance when we started this group, but I have been thinking that we might to spin off another group at the  Main Library if attendance continues to be close to 20.  Ten or slightly  more, in my, opinion, is about ideal for a conversation group.  Just to be clear, I am a paid employee, and now this kind of programming is my only responsibility.  The library also pays me for prep time.  I also lead another group every Saturday, called Intercambio, which is a Spanish/English conversation group.

And recently (November)  we started up a new Everyday English group at our branch library.  This one is struggling to get going, but I still have at least four or five people who come regularly.  We meet Thursday evenings from 6 to 7.    As far as structure, I always have some kind of exercise, maybe a reading, or pictures to talk about, or just a topic.  I never go in unprepared, but sometimes the conversation just gets going and I don't use what I had planned.  I like to always start by having everyone introduce themselves and tell a little about their life and how they came to be in the U.S. or what their journey has been as an ESL learner.  I try to follow up with questions for each person, so that usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes of our time.  And people like to stay after and chat with each other as well.  I don't know what I would do differently but I think it would be good to have time to use a bit more media, maybe youtube videos, etc.  I am planning to take those who want to  out to a play, and we have had potlucks after hours at the library where everyone brought food from their culture.  I am not a trained ESL teacher, but I can usually answer questions about grammar, usage, pronunciation, etc.  Also questions about cultural differences come up and those are always enlightening.  One time we discussed what questions are appropriate to ask a person you have just met  and what are not, for example.   And finally, just to emphasize, we do not bill this as a class.  Many of the members are already studying English at our local community college and this is an opportunity for them to put their skill to work in an informal setting.

I would love to answer more questions if you have them.  And, in fact, I am going to make tutoring and teaching language a post retirement gig.  So let me know if I could even perhaps pay a visit to your library, or at least chat on the phone about starting up your group.  And since I only work 12 hours a week now, it is easier to contact me at my personal e-mail: davepauli746 at gmail.com<mailto:davepauli746 at gmail.com> or call or text me at 971-330-5139.

Dave Pauli, Librarian I
Hillsboro Public Library

From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Kelly Martinez
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 12:34 PM
To: Martin, Greg; libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Seeking advice toward starting an English conversation group

For those that respond, could you please share with all of us, we are also considering this type of program.

Thank you in advance!

Kelly Martinez

Hermiston Public Library

235 E Gladys Ave.

Hermiston Oregon 97838

541 567 2882

From: Libs-Or <libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>> on behalf of Martin, Greg <gmartin at wilsonvillelibrary.org<mailto:gmartin at wilsonvillelibrary.org>>
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 12:06 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us<mailto:libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
Subject: [Libs-Or] Seeking advice toward starting an English conversation group

Hello Fellow Librarians,

Our library is nipping around the edges of providing an English conversation group, geared toward non-native English speakers of all backgrounds. We're soliciting advice from any library who presently has or had such a group, (especially those libraries outside large metropolitan areas). If this describes your library, would you take a few moments to let us know the answers to questions like:

Who runs your group? a (paid) professional, a volunteer, or no one?

How often does it meet, and how do you determine the best days and times for your community? Do dates and times change during the year? Did it take awhile to 'ramp up' your program?

What is the attendance, and does it vary? How do you keep track of participants? Would you say you have much structure in your program?

What do you wish you could do in addition to what you already do?

Thanks very much for any insights you can provide us!


Greg Martin
Adult Services Librarian
Wilsonville Public Library

503.682.8685 Fax
martin at wilsonvillelibrary.org<mailto:martin at wilsonvillelibrary.org>
[Wilsonville Library logo]

8200 SW Wilsonville Road, Wilsonville, OR 97070

Disclosure Notice: Messages to and from this e-mail address may be subject to the Oregon Public Records Law
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