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Herriman Journal

Herriman teen starts English language classes for immigrants

Feb 10, 2020 02:20PM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray

Herriman Youth Council runs a free class helping immigrants with their English. (Photo courtesy Lea Seo)

By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]

When Leo Seo applied for her second year as a member of the Herriman Youth Council, she hoped to accomplish a project very near to her heart. 

On Jan. 22, Seo will see her hopes come to fruition when the youth council holds its first of six English-speaking classes to “to help foreign-born adults gain confidence in using the English language through pronunciation lessons, role-playing activities, speech practices, reading comprehension and more.” 

“My parents emigrated from South Korea 20 years ago,” Seo said. “Even with us living in the U.S. for 20 years, my mom hasn’t had the chance to fully develop her speaking skills. She’s not super confident and has been wanting to improve her pronunciation for a long time.” 

Seo, a senior at Providence Hall High School, approached three educators to instruct the classes but also wanted her fellow youth council members involved. 

“The classes are 45 minutes long, and for the last 15 minutes, the youth council will come in and converse with them,” said Seo. “They can get to know us and also develop their pronunciation.” 

Seo approached her neighbor and friend Arica Smith to help instruct the classes. Smith, who has a background in education and a love for different cultures, said she loves Seo enthusiasm. 

“I just love Lea’s idea,” Smith said. “Lea is the most self-driven and self-motivated young woman I’ve encountered. She’s always involved in some project in addition to her studies.” 

Smith said she is excited to kick off the classes because she loves to help put people at ease.

“I want to help them feel confident in using whatever basic skills they possess,” she said. “I hope I can set a good tone and help them feel comfortable interacting with each other.” 

Seo said 13 people have signed up for the classes, which run each Wednesday from Jan. to Feb. 26 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. at the Providence Hall High School Library in Herriman. 

Seo hopes more people will find out about it and come join in the learning and friendships she hopes to cultivate. 

“The students don’t need to bring anything; we will have everything they need,” she said. “I want us all to get to know each other and make friends.” 

Seo’s mother, Su-yeon Jung, will be attending the classes and said she is proud of her daughter. 

“My mom feels grateful that she was my inspiration,” she said. “At the same time, she feels proud that I'm putting this together for the other immigrants as well. She empathizes with the situations they're in, in regards to English-speaking skills, so she's glad I'm doing this for the community.”

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