The room is packed. The 24 adults seated in the class, from at least a dozen countries, are each connected to someone at the University of Pennsylvania. They are here to learn to speak English, free of charge.
The teacher is a student herself, in the second year of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages master’s program in Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Assisting her are four first-year Penn GSE students, all volunteers.
“It’s a dual mission,” says Hannah Brenneman, PEDAL program coordinator, “to help teach English to English-language learners and also to help train our novice teachers.”
PEDAL@GSE offers classes weekly at GSE for people connected to Penn. The Community PEDAL@GSE program offers classes to West Philadelphia community members at the Walnut West Philadelphia Library. Last fall, Community PEDAL became partners with Philadelphia Mayor James Kenny’s Office of Adult Education, which promotes adult literacy.
“The PEDAL program is another example of Penn GSE’s leadership in aligning its educational mission with the needs of the Philadelphia community,” says Jeffrey Cooper, Penn vice president for government and community affairs. “By providing a critical service to those learning to speak English, Penn GSE students also learn skills necessary to advance their careers.”