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Rye Man Helps Foreigners Communicate

RYE, N.Y. -- Vincent Byrne came to America from Ireland, so he knows what it's like to move to a foreign land. That's why he is drawn to helping others learn English.

"Not knowing the language is very isolating," said Byrne, who offers a free ESL class at the Rye Free Reading Room every Wednesday from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Byrne's focuses on getting people to feel comfortable with speaking English. His classes typically center on conversational exercises about everyday matters, which emphasize speaking and listening skills. "I want them to understand that the class is a laboratory. It's okay to make mistakes here," said Byrne. "If you don't let yourself make mistakes, you won't make anything."

For the past three years, Byrne has offered a free ESL class at the library. A retired marketing research consultant, Byrne decided to take up teaching English 18 years ago.

He began teaching with the Literacy Volunteers of Westchester, receiving basic training in ESL instruction.

"I thought teaching ESL was going to be nothing," said Byrne. "I realized I didn't know what I was doing."

He decided seek further training and obtained ESL certification from the New School in New York City, which was a year-and-a-half program.

Following that, he spent 14 years teaching ESL at Greenwich Adult and Continuing Education. Now, he teaches English in his spare time.

His class runs during the school year because most of his students are typically young mothers.

"It's a good environment for them to meet each other and practice their English," said Byrne.

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