July 27, 2016
STAMFORD — Raymonde Plantin allowed each syllable to linger on her tongue as she sounded out the words.
Top shelf. Bottom drawer. Middle shelf.
The 54-year-old Haitian immigrant was repeating short phrases in response to a question posed by her instructor — “Where should I put it?”
Susan Benthall holds up photos of furniture during an English lesson.
Being able to communicate about common household items is a crucial skill for home health aides. But for the foreign-born workers who make up roughly 20 percent of this workforce, mastering new vocabulary can be challenging.
“Asking for advice is something that’s very difficult in a foreign language, especially English,” said ESL instructor Susan Benthall. “Just practicing questions and answers — like, ‘Where should I put it?’ — has a lot of uses.”
Benthall teaches at Neighbors Link, a city nonprofit that provides resources for recent immigrants. This summer she’s leading a course for home health aides that combines skills training and vocational English.
Starting in the fall, the free course will be offered through
apartnership with Norwalk Community College and Stamford Adult Education, which will allow students an opportunity to earn certificates with completion of a set number of sessions.