“I really enjoy the time with my classmates and teachers…”

Naomi Takehara is a student in the KLC’s ESL of Southwest Michigan program. Naomi came to the U.S. five years ago, when her husband was transferred from his job at Denso in Japan to Denso in Battle Creek. She enrolled in a semester with Western Michigan University’s ESL program. She soon began searching for online classes, but didn’t find a program that included Japanese as one of the languages served. Then, she found the Kalamazoo Literacy Council.

Naomi began attending in-person classes through our Community Literacy Center (CLC) at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and once the pandemic hit, she continued her studies through our Virtual Learning Center. She is highly motivated and participates in as many weekly classes as possible. Outside of the traditional language classes, Naomi attended our Health Literac Covid-19 series from March – May, and the “Read and Seed” garden and nutrition-focused course in June. Naomi is a bright student and a friendly person who says, “I really enjoy the time with my classmates and teachers; they are so kind!”. She also loves yoga and working as a dental hygienist. Two things in particular that she’s loved about her time with the KLC are learning how to go to the hospital and about American culture and pastimes.

Naomi is a very social person. She likes to be around people and she lights up a Zoom call with her presence, laughing and making jokes. When she first started taking TOEFL(R) classes, she was having trouble being understood because of her pronunciation and we used an interpreter when we made phone calls so that she could be understood. She really wanted to improve and so she started coming to every English class that we offered. 

She has been our most loyal student in our Virtual Learning Center, coming to more than 30 hours of classes every month since we started online learning. When we offer a new class, we know that Naomi will be there to participate and she always encourages others to join in. Whenever we get a new student, Naomi is the first to introduce them to the group and ask them about themselves. She makes others feel welcome and she is genuinely excited to meet new people. 

Naomi’s ability to speak and understand English in the short months that she has been with us has improved greatly. She is now confident to speak, speaks clearly and is regularly the first person to come up with the correct answer to difficult advanced level questions in our TOEFL(R) class. 

Even though Naomi moved to Tennessee at the end of the summer, she still continues to be one of our most active students. She regularly attends Jay’s Level 4 class and TOEFL(R). She is a joy to have in class and continues to work to constantly improve her English skills.