NEW BRUNSWICK,NJ - Her major in college was cultural anthropology, but after graduating from Rutgers University, Ariel Marrero's first interest was using her studies in Spanish.

When the New Brunswick library sought volunteers last year to help others improve English speaking and writing skills, Marrero saw an opportunity. It was the first time the library tried a  program, having an instructor lead classes, and volunteers, including Marreros, work with small groups of residents seeking to improve their English.

This year the library is running the program again and is again seeking volunteers to work in the classes, and Marrero would recommend participating.

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“People appreciated feeling like they were coming in to a safe and welcoming learning environment where they felt comfortable practicing their English language skills,’ Marrero said.

She was one of 12 volunteers of varying ages, some college students and some business professionals, who took part in the program.

The classes run for six weeks, with each class meeting once each week. Classes are scheduled the in mornings and evening, and volunteers pick the class time when they can attend.

People interested in volunteering can attend a one-hour information session on Aug. 2 at Henry Guest House, next to the city library at 60 Livingston Avenue. If they sign-up, there is a 2 1/2 hour training session.

A teacher leads each session and volunteers work with groups of three to five people in a class.

“Volunteers are a very important part of the program,” said Jessica Hunsdon, who runs the program and teaches some of the classes. Volunteers “provide opportunities for a more interactive class environment and greater opportunities for practice,” Hunsdon said.

In the groups, Marrero said, volunteers assist class members working on their use of English in writing, pronunciation, comprehension and conversation.

Last year the program attracted participants who spoke Spanish, Turkish, Mandarin, French and Russian, all of them wanting to improve their use of English, Hunsdon said.

More information is available by emailing Hunsdon at or by  sending her a text message at 732-659-4359.