Community comes together in South/West Park School computer lab
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jan 16, 2014 | 5012 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Computer class
Maricela Morelos-Bedolla, a teacher at South/West Park Elementary School, helps Spanish-speaking kindergartners Pablo and Jesus Sierra practice English on Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the school computer lab. Free lessons using Rosetta Stone software two evenings a week help students and their parents learn English as a second language.  Denise Ellen Rizzo/Tracy Press
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Maria Sierra may not “habla” English yet, but she is learning how during a class two days a week at South/West Park Elementary School.

“It’s magnifico,” Sierra said, calling the class “magnificent” during a session Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the school’s computer lab.

Sierra and her two sons in kindergarten, 5-year-old Pablo and 6-year-old Jesus, have been attending computer-based language lessons from 6 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday since the school year started in August.

A native Spanish speaker, Sierra spoke with the translation assistance of the class instructor, Maricela Morelos-Bedolla.

Sierra said she was learning English for the first time. In addition to the benefits for her, she said the class has reinforced the English her sons are learning in their kindergarten classes at the school.

Smiling broadly, Pablo said he liked the class because he likes to play and learn letters in English.

According to Morelos-Bedolla, the class began four years ago at the school at 501 Mount Oso Road, but this is her first year overseeing it.

“I think it really helps,” she said, “especially for the parents to be connected to our school. Its main purpose is to serve the community.”

The class, which can accommodate 30 people, is open only to South/West Park students and their families, and it’s primarily designed to teach Spanish-speaking parents and their children the English language using the Rosetta Stone software program, Morelos-Bedolla said.

Each week, an average of 15 to 20 parents and their children take part in the classes, she said.

On Tuesday, the participants were Sierra and her two sons; 8-year-old Aerial Ortega and her mother, Rita Soria; and Ronald Moody, the father of two South/West Park students.

“It helps my mom learn English,” Aerial said. “I like it because I’m learning words with three letters or two, and fractions.”

Looking at computer screens, the participants wore headphones so they could hear translations and follow directions using images, text, sound and video.

“The feedback is the kids really like it — it’s very interactive,” Morelos-Bedolla said. “For the parents, it’s not as intimidating as being in a class with an instructor.”

The participants might stay all night, she said, if she didn’t flick the classroom lights off and on to notify them that the hour had ended.

Although the program was designed to teach English to Spanish speakers, Moody was taking advantage of the opportunity to study Spanish.

His wife is from Mexico, he said, and her native language is Spanish, and they have raised their two daughters to be bilingual. He said it’s his turn to learn.

“I think it’s great. Parents can come and learn English,” he said. “More people should take advantage. I get to learn Spanish without buying the program.”

For information on the class, call 830-3335.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or

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