Greenburgh Group Breaks Language Barriers

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Marione Heim, left, speaks with Hector Rojas at the Greenburgh Public Library's English-Spanish Conversation Group. Heim wants to practice Spanish, and Rojas wants to practice English. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Greenburgh is a different world for Hector Rojas, 20, who is from Colombia and attends Westchester Community College.

But Rojas said the English-Spanish Conversation Group at the Greenburgh Public Library hosted by librarian Diana Lennon has given him much-needed practice with English.

"I need to learn English. I have a problem understanding them," Rojas said about his English-speaking professors at the college. "This conversation group is good practice."

Lennon, who is fluent in Spanish, put the group together about two years ago because residents were requesting an outlet where they could learn English and Spanish.

"There are a lot of Spanish-speaking people looking for help in English," she said. "The group is very casual and there's no agenda. There are a lot of regular followers, and people always invite their friends."

For Hilda Nonorvani, the group is a free chance to practice speaking English. She is a speech pathologist at Bilinguals Inc., a facility in White Plains.

"I don't have an opportunity on a daily basis to talk to people and practice my English," said Nonorvani, who is from Peru but now lives in Scarsdale.

Though some group members attend to succeed at school or in their careers, others, like Marione Heim, just want to learn the language.

Heim said she took Spanish in high school, and she wanted to continue her knowledge so she "could speak to everybody, everywhere."

"I didn't take a course because I'm not in it for the grammar or reading. I'm in it for the conversation," Heim said.

The group usually meets at the Greenburgh Public Library on Wednesdays at 2 p.m., but as the library has to prepare for its book sale, Oct. 24 is set for the group's next meeting. Registration is not required, and anyone who wants to improve his or her English or Spanish is welcome to attend.

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