1st Annual Spelling Bee Creates Buzz Around English Literacy (Video)

Organizers at the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy hit the dictionary to prepare for their first annual Grown-Up Spelling Bee for Adult Literacy.

MyMCMedia’s Valerie Bonk has the story of how the event held  at the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, brought the community together to focus on literacy issues in the County.


With the correct spelling of the verb meaning to eat or drink greedily and noisily, a team of contestants from Holy Cross Hospital beat out the competition in the first annual grown up spelling bee to promote English literacy.

“It’s hard to learn English,” said Kathy Stevens, Executive Director of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy. “It takes adults about seven years to become efficient in English, we have thousands of adults in the County who we know are limited in their English proficiency. Our goal is to make as many classes available as possible so that they can get the skills they need to get on a pathway out of poverty.”

The event brought teachers, students and supporters of English literacy together to focus on spreading the word about the importance of learning the language in having a voice in the community.

“Because of the demographic shifts in our County there are so many thousands of people who need to learn how to speak English to just do very basic things,” said Valerie Ervin, former County Councilmember and current Executive Director of the Center for Working Families. “It’s an economic development issue as well, so many people looking for jobs need to have English as their second language really beefed up.”

Immigrants in the audience know first-hand the challenges of learning English as a second language.

“When I came over here to this Country 25 years ago I didn’t know any English at all so it was hard and I went to school and I learned and also because I worked and I tried to learn it that way,” said Cecilia Rojas, a Board Member with the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy.

“I know how important it is to learn English so that’s what I figured I could teach people how to get along and how to be able to survive and be able to get better jobs and communicate with other people with English,” said Gloria Bernero, a teacher with the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy.

Find more information about MCAEL through its website here.

Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).


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