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Our Students

Adult Basic Education (ABE) students are seeking to improve their basic skills.  The average ABE student reads at a 2nd to 5th grade level; however, they are not limited to what a 2nd or 5th grader knows.  Many of our students have graduated from high school, are employed, and are using their survival skills to raise families, work, and cope with life in a hyper-literate society.  Many times, ABE students come to us after a crisis, such as a job injury, being turned down for a promotion at work, struggling to help their child with schoolwork, or being unable to follow written directions from a doctor.  It can be a big step for students to call us -- it may be the first time they admit they can't read.

"Every time I get a letter or something, I have to ask somebody, 'what is the meaning of this?'  I hate that.  I want to know myself.  I want to do things myself."
"Write?  Yes, I want to write.  I want to be able to leave my wife a note that says, 'I'll meet you at the pizza place at 5:30.'  I want to write my own Christmas cards for once."
"After 53 years, I am finally able to order something besides cheeseburgers.  I can finally read the menu.  I am so sick of cheeseburgers."

English as a Second Language (ESL) students come to Skagit Valley seeking a better life for themselves and their children.  They come in search of better jobs, education, political and religious freedom, opportunities for their children, advanced medical care, and to realize the "American Dream".
Last year our students came from 13 countries -- a large portion are from Mexico and Russia.  Our ESL students may be newcomers or may have lived in the US for several years.  They may speak no English at all or they may be seeking to refine their skills.  Some students are illiterate in their native language, and some have university educations.

"My children learn English so fast.  I have to learn too.  I have to keep up with them, so that I can help them and be a good parent."
"I want to learn English so I can have American friends.  I want to have a nice job.  Maybe I can work in the hospital to help the Mexican people when no one understands them."
"Since my husband died, I have felt so alone.  He was the one who spoke English for us, so I never had to learn.  Now I run the business and take care of my family.  It is very important for me to learn English."