Meet Sharon Cheng, our Engage San Francisco Literacy Tutor, earning her MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in Spring 2023. To learn more about our Engage San Francisco Literacy Tutors, visit the McCarthy Center blog.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying? What year are you?
I am an international student from Taipei, Taiwan. I came to the US eight years ago and am currently completing my masters in the School of Education, specifically teaching English to speakers of other languages. I’ve always been interested in teaching. As a bilingual person, I felt inspired to think about the struggles I encountered with my own learning and use my experience to help students who may have similar struggles in school.
How did you become involved in the ESF Literacy program and why did you return?
When I began my master's program in the Fall of 2021, I was looking for student employment opportunities. Because of my previous experiences, I knew I wanted to continue working with children. I learned more about ESF through the website and what the role pertains to, so I was excited about the opportunity. I was especially excited about being in a community and supporting local teachers because I know they are overworked. I like how we can go into the classroom to support local teachers, how I am serving the community, and really align with the mission of ESF.
I returned because I love working with children, and I had a great experience every semester. I love working with the students and did not want to miss the opportunity. I also really like the ESF team!
What advice would you give future ESF literacy tutors?
I would say be present and involved in the classroom. Be part of the class -- don’t be a stranger! There is so much learning to happen when you are in the classroom. Take the initiative to interact with the students and teachers. Sometimes if the teacher is busy, I may join the students to see what they are doing. There is so much more the program can offer you when you are actively involved.
What have you learned during your experience as an ESF tutor in developing your knowledge about social justice and equity?
Another aspect I like about ESF is that the program team always sends tutors social justice resources. From this access, I have learned a lot more about different racial identities and their history. I was not as exposed before ESF, especially coming from a country where everyone looks like you – I wasn't aware. Learning about social justice and equity has helped me develop my approach to working in these spaces.
How does your time at ESF connect with your career goals?
Teaching has always been my passion. Having the opportunity to work with different children has helped me with my teaching career. When it comes to teaching, you are trying to help people with diverse needs and finding the balance of doing it in a group setting. Being present at ESF and within the classroom has helped me develop my skills in working with different students at the same time while making the experiences engaging and impactful. I’m really impressed by our teachers – their patience, their understanding, and dedication.