Jack Straw Offers Hands On English Training

Jack Straw Offers Hands on English Training
Seattle World School student reads poetry to practice English.  Photo by Nancy Peterfreund.

Jack Straw Productions, a multidisciplinary audio arts center in the University District, has been providing hands-on language and technology training to Vietnamese, Spanish and Amharic speaking youth at the Seattle World School, a public school for newcomers to the United States.

With support from the Technology Matching Fund in 2011, Jack Straw implemented a new writing, performance, and technology project with Seattle World School and the Vietnamese Friendship Association.  In this project, Vietnamese high school students worked with Jack Straw’s professional writers, vocal coaches, and audio engineers to write, perform, and record their own poetry.

The project grew out of Vietnamese Friendship Association’s concerns that their students were very shy and had difficulty speaking English in front of each other.  Jack Straw sent two actors/vocal coaches to the school twice a week to work with students in small groups reading out loud, with special attention to difficult sounds. As the students’ abilities and confidence in reading out loud began to grow, Jack Straw writers began working with the students to help with their writing and to build their English language skills by encouraging their creativity and giving the students a chance to play with the language. Listen to the student’s recording here.

Jack Straw also provided a flash drama PSA project called “Health Talk” at Seattle World School. Community partners included International Community Health Services and Refugee Women’s Alliance. The project provided literacy, technology, and school curriculum content support working with writers, actors, and audio engineers. Amharic and Spanish students learned about health and well being from an ICHS health care provider and assistant and applied that learning to produce PSAs in English. ICHS staff went over health topics and provided some information about how they can affect your overall wellbeing. The “Health Talk” PSAs are available here.

For more information about the project, contact Joan Rabinowitz at joan@jackstraw.org