When the Adult Learning Center expanded its room in the old vo-tech building on Clark Avenue in September, coordinators hoped the extra room would benefit the nearly 450 students who use the center each year. And it has.
Peter Cai, who came to Cape Girardeau from China, has been taking English as a Second Language classes for over a year and said the larger room has been useful because it allows him to work in a group with other international students. Last year 56 international students used the ESL service. During the first half of the current school year, 26 have used the program for ESL.
Nancy Branson, Adult Education and Literacy Program coordinator, said the students come and go as they please until they meet their own personal goals, so attendance fluctuates. There is no set schedule for every student.
Branson said the extra room has allowed for more private areas for students to meet with tutors. Prior to the expansion, the students were crammed into a small room that didn't always promote learning.
Before the expansion, students and teachers would weave through a maze of furniture stuffed into the room. They would sit together at tables and try to remain focused on understanding a new language while others around them, sometimes an arms length away, talked and worked.
Branson said the expansion doubled the size of the original room, and allows students and teachers to spread out.
"I don't know how we moved around before," she said. "It really amazes me that we made it through."
All of the classes offered are free, including preparation for the GED exam.
Branson said she and the other teachers at the center are preparing students for the new GED which will go into effect Jan. 1.
Major changes to the test include a price increase from $27 to $40, the addition of an eight-page demographics questionnaire and a new rule that allows students to use a calculator on 80 percent of the math section.
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