Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – Breaking Down Language Barriers

Name: Anna Lauer
From: Coopersville, MI
Grade: 11
School: Coopersville High School
Votes: 0

Down Language Barriers

I love language. I love being able to learn new languages and
discovering the connections that exist within them. However, I also
understand that languages can create barriers between cultures and
people. It is my goal to help break down language barriers by
volunteering as a tutor in English for Spanish-speaking migrants.

About a year ago, I began volunteering my time on a weekly basis, totalling
21 hours, to tutor Spanish-speaking migrants. As a volunteer, I had
to create a bond with my students while challenging them to speak in
as much English as possible. I also had to make sure I was equipped
with the vocabulary to help relay information to them in Spanish.
Although I loved being able to volunteer as a tutor, one of the most
challenging aspects of my job was not always being able to
efficiently explain specific grammar rules to them. Even though I had
completed four years of Spanish at my school, I was not a native
Spanish-speaker and I still lacked some vocabulary that would have
been useful in relaying information.

being a volunteer in this position proved to be difficult at times,
it is still the most rewarding job I have ever done. I was able to
watch my students grow into better English-speakers and know that I
was somehow playing a part in their education. Each week I watched my
students begin to take risks and speak in English to me. These
moments filled me with joy and made me realize how blessed I truly
was to play a role in my students’ education.

This volunteer position has not only taught me more about Spanish and
English, it has also taught me patience. My job was difficult at
times when I could not fully explain a concept to my students because
of our language barriers. During these difficult moments, I learned
patience; patience with myself, the situation, and my students. This
volunteer position has developed a greater capacity of patience
within myself, which is something I will value for the rest of my

Volunteering as a tutor has given me the opportunity to enhance my
Spanish-speaking skills while helping others. I have learned that I
love Spanish and desire to pursue it in a career. I believe this
activity was “forward-looking” because it allowed me to recognize
my love for Spanish and discover my passion in using it in the

I believe that becoming a tutor for Spanish-speaking migrants has
allowed me to make a difference in my community because of the
language barrier I have helped to erase. If I were to visit the
people I tutored in 10, 20, or 30 years, I believe I would notice a
difference that I helped to create. Perhaps my students would be
speaking fluently in English to other English-speakers or working for
an international business because of their bilingual abilities. I
sincerely hope and believe that my service has made a difference in
the lives of my students.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".