Focused, Spanish-Speaking Bartender Expands English Vocabulary, Enters ESL Program, and Gets More Work Hours

At a Glance


  • Phrasal verbs & prepositions

  • Homophones

  • Interpreting different US dialects


  • Hours Purchased: 18

  • Improved phrasal verbs, prepositions, homophones, and listening

  • Qualified for preferred ESL program


Improved Listening Ability
She can respond to people because she better understands what they’re saying.

Acceptance to Local ESL Program
She’ll be able to increase her ability to communicate in English in a place that charges her less than a private tutor.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety
There’s less stress about communicating with people in English. There’s less confusion and more hope about future opportunities.


Karol needed to get into a local ESL program that lacked resources for beginner-level English language learners. When she came to me in 2017, she needed to learn to read, write, speak, and understand enough English to pass the school’s ESL program’s entrance exam. Additionally, Karol wanted to be able to communicate with customers at work.


After meeting in person for our diagnostic session, Karol and I met 2 to 3 hours per week for six weeks. She had trouble with homophones (e.g., our vs. hour, too vs. to vs. too, etc.); phrasal verbs and prepositions were problematic for her, too. Initially, she hadn’t told me she was aiming to get into a community college program, so her regimen was geared toward helping her learn to communicate at work and developing a bartending-and-hospitality-based vocabulary.

During Week 3, we engaged in opportunities for her to practice speaking English with native English speakers, which boosted her confidence and helped her relax into being able to learn more particulars of English language and make specific notes about the different ways in which different people pronounced the same words or phrases. “I never knew what the people say. Now I understand why people are angry with me. They do not know that I do not know they say the same words other persons say to me. It is funny now, but it was not funny when the people were angry. Thank you for helping me to know this.”


Along the way, Karol would share stories of how becoming more comfortable speaking with customers resulted in being offered extra work hours. “Customers at my work give me more tips because I try to talk with them. I still do not understand all the words. This is good to them. I did what you told me. I say to them that I am learning more English. Sometimes, they practice with me at the bar. Now that they know why I did not talk a lot with them before because of my English, they are nicer. The tips help me and make me happy, but I really like that the customers are good with me.”

Karol’s earned entry to Merritt College’s ESL program.

In the Customer's Words

“I am glad that you are there when I practice talking to the people. You help me understand what they say. I am happy that you are patient when I make many many mistakes. Thank you for making me ready to take the English class at the college.”

— Karol Solis, Bartender & Aspiring Entrepreneur


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