At the Centro Contacto Latino, Spanish speakers learn to improve their English skills, and their children can take classes to brush up on their Spanish.
â€œWhen children come (to the United States), learning English is pretty much a given,â€ said Betsy Chacon, director of the center. â€œWithin two years, their English skills really come along pretty fast.â€
Although most children pick up English quickly, their parents often struggle with the new language.
The children also lose some of their ability to speak and write Spanish after being immersed in an English speaking culture.
For these children, the Centro Contacto Latino, which is located in Lincolnton, will offer Spanish classes for children who are native Spanish speakers.
The classes will be set up similar to language arts or English classes in school, and students will improve their skills in writing, reading and speaking Spanish.
While working to keep children from losing their native language, the center also provides English as a Second Language classes for adults.
This class offers its students a chance to improve their English and also to better understand American culture.
The classes take place in both the fall and spring, and students are tutored by American volunteers.
â€œItâ€™s been really great,â€ said Chacon. â€œWeâ€™ve seen attitudes change on both sides.â€
Having cross cultural understanding is part of the mission of the Centro Contacto Latino. The centers main goal, however, is to â€œserve the Latino Community in the name of Christ.â€
â€œWe want people to have contact with the Lord and build a relationship with God, but also to have contact with other cultures,â€ said Chacon.
One way of doing both these things is bringing Bible study into their ESL classes.
â€œWeâ€™re not trying to be preachy,â€ said Chacon. â€œWe show by actions.â€
The center also offers other services to their clients including free translation, computer classes and workshops on issues like child safety or social security.
Elementary aged children can also receive help on homework at the center through tutoring on Tuesday afternoons.
â€œA lot of parents care about their childrenâ€™s education, but they canâ€™t help them with their homework if they donâ€™t know what it says,â€ said Chacon.
The center also has many resources for clients such as a Spanish Christian bookstore, Internet access and bible clubs for students in both elementary and middle school.
For more information call 704-732-8878.by Sarah Grano