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Ann – Our “Mother of Exiles”
April 2008 | by Sherryl Parks


Long-time resident Ann Dempsey has been teaching English as a Second Language for over 16 years. Ann became interested in teaching when her daughter, Joanna taught English in Cambodia. Ann trained at UCSD Extension which prepared her to meet the wide variety of immigrants coming into San Diego County. Her students are between 18 and 80 years of age, representing Korea, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Iran, France, Colombia, Equador, Taiwan, Mexico and China. Many of her Chinese students have arrived here to take care of their grandchildren while the parents work. A great number of her students are retired doctors, university professors or successful business people.

Ann's enthusiasm for her teaching is obvious. She engages students in practical areas of life including ordering out at a restaurant, using 911 to make emergency calls, and negotiating change at the grocery store. The level of understanding English ranges from beginning to advanced. She has learned much from her students over the years. For example, she has learned to always accept a person from Asia with two hands – not one. And one always offers something with two hands. She also reports that the word that everyone knows best is “pizza” and of course that isn't really English. She has learned about the most pressing concerns of immigrants in the county – public transportation. There is a bus only once an hour in Solana Beach and nothing at all in Carmel Valley. If you don't have a car, which most of them don't, you resort to traveling by foot. One of her students – in her seventies – walks to class one hour each way!

Ann teaches classes at the Solana Beach library two days a week and Carmel Valley library one day a week. Her most popular class is for those becoming US citizens, at Solana Beach on Wednesday evenings. There is no cost to attend the classes, but students should buy a workbook that costs $23.

Catalogs of classes are offered through the San Dieguito Adult School and are available at the local libraries, but Ann will be happy to answer any specific questions (755-7563). If you leave your name and number, please speak slowly.



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