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ELLoquently’s founders include Zhen Tu, top left, Arush Iyer, top right, and Timmy Tu, bottom.

EHS students found ELLoquently

Learning English is a vital skill to not only Americans, but to many people who live outside the United States.

It’s a skill local students would like to share.

Eagan High School students Arush Iyer and Timmy Tu along with Tu’s sister, Zhen Tu, an EHS graduate who is a rising senior at Yale University, founded the free online English tutoring service ELLoquently in May.

They have a mission to equalize access to English language learning (ELL) both in their neighborhood and throughout the world.

Today they have a group of 100 tutors both in high school and in college “all joining together just to help other kids learn English through these weekly one-hour sessions,” Iyer said.

Timmy Tu, Zhen Tu, and Iyer started this program because they wanted to help our community during these difficult times.

"We've all had experience tutoring in the past, and we hope that through language learning and cultural exchange, we can build a global community," Iyer said.

Internationally, learning English is a vital part of many people’s education.

“We use the term lingua franca, it’s a universal language,” Iyer said.

One of the students is from Argentina who wants to study abroad in Germany, but needs English skills first.

What’s in it for the tutors?

They get to meet people from all over the world. They get to hear their stories and find out what’s going on in other countries.

“To have that face-to face interaction with these people and to hear what’s going on in their lives, it’s amazing,” Iyer said.

Many of them are from war-torn countries or places with political turmoil. They reach students in Afghanistan, Sudan and Turkey.

Plus they love teaching.

“I have a passion for teaching. I get really dynamic when giving a lesson,” Iyer said. “When I’m teaching and I have the opportunity to help someone, I light up.”

The curriculum was formed with the help of retired professors from Century College, Inver Hills Community College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College, he said.

“(The curriculum) is collaborative,” Iyer said. “We have interactive read alouds. We refine writing skills. We have these weekly prompt systems where we say ‘write a paragraph about your favorite food and how it makes you feel.’ ”

The list of tutors includes students at Eagan High School as well as other schools in Minnesota.

“We even have a tutor from Panama City,” Iyer said “I’m not entirely sure how she found our website, but she’s been an amazing tutor. Most of it has been word-of-mouth. It’s not a great time commitment and it’s a lot of fun.”

Tutors from Eagan High School include Mollie Klingberg, Colin Roberts, Ali Jafferi, Allen Gong, Nina Mirfakhraie, Arush Iyer, Josie VanDiver, Ibby Miyanoorwala, Peter Vasterling, Julia Schowalter, Sriram Nutulapati, Ella DeMartelaere, Ryan Madigan, Jairus Allen Pagaduan, Janani Venkatasubramanian, Olivia Matsoff, Hannah Maccarone, Ismail Irfanullah, Kyra Lopez, Anna Schuller, Hana Diwan, Miya Molina and Kennan Li.

Students from neighboring Eastview High School also joined in the efforts including Malaya Galindez, Tarun Kota, Rimika Dhara and Udaya Gadiparthi

There’s also tutors from the Blake School, Wayzata High School, St. Paul Central, and even North Creek High School in Seattle.

There are collegiate tutors from Columbia; Oberlin; Yale; University of California, Berkley; University of Toronto; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Pennsylvania, and The Juilliard School.

Iyer said ELLoquently is adding five new students every day, so they’re hoping to find a few more tutors.

For more information on how to be a tutor, visit ELLoquently.com.

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