Aldi Sorel is someone to admire. He came from the Gabonese Republic, which is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa, to be with his mother who had already been here for ten years. He has been at BridgeEnglish Denver longer than most of the teachers and he is for sure the veteran student here having been at Bridge since 2010. He came to the U.S. with practically no English skills whatsoever and was thrown into the Denver public school system before he could even communicate with anyone. He now speaks fluent French (his native tongue) as well as fluent English and this November, after two years of studying hard at Bridge, he plans to move on and go to university to start his career as a computer engineer. Aldi is a hard worker in school and also at home. He spends a lot of time taking care of his younger nieces and nephews who also live here so that his Aunt can earn a living. Aldi is a great person with a most pleasant way about him. He is friend to everyone and even though he still functions on “Gabon time,” which is basically at least a half an hour late to everything, he always makes class fun and interesting, once he shows up!
AB: Aldi, tell me about yourself.
AS: I am from Gabon, Africa. I came to Denver in 2005 to stay with my mom who had already been here for ten years. She came here to work to get a better job to earn money for our family. I went to high school here also, to Denver South. After I graduated from South, I took one semester at Community College of Denver and then I came to Bridge to study more English.
AB: Did you know any English before you came here?
AS: No, I didn’t know any English at all.
AB: How did you survive in the brutal world of high school without being able to speak English?
AS: At South, they had a specific English learning curriculum for students whose first language is not English so I was at first taking only those classes. All of my classes were in this special program, English, math, science, even gym!
AB: How long did it take before you could communicate?
AS: It was month by month really. With every month, I was able to speak a little more. It was gradual, which was difficult, but the program was good and I learned a lot.
AB: Did you like going to high school here in Colorado?
AS: I liked it but it was obviously hard because I couldn’t really understand people. They spoke really fast and it was frustrating but I met some nice people who were also in the English course with me, people from Russia and Mexico, so that was nice.
AB: After you graduated high school, what did you do?
AS: I went to Community College of Denver for one semester but it wasn’t that great for me, so I transferred to Bridge in 2010.
AB: How did you find out about Bridge?
AS: My friend told me about Bridge and recommended it. I also have an aunt here and she recommended it too. She had come to Bridge before to learn English.
AB: You are on a work exchange program here. Tell me more about that.
AS: Yes, I work here in exchange for classes. I mostly file student folders that contain all of their information. There are a lot of students that come and go so it keeps me busy. I am grateful that I get to work in exchange for classes. It is very cool.
AB: Did you have any English education in Gabon?
AS: Yes, but it wasn’t good because at home I only spoke French. I had no English practice at all. I never had the chance to speak. We studied grammar and stuff in school but never, ever got a chance to actually speak. We learned the very basic words, “table, chair, book, etc.” but obviously that wasn’t enough to be able to communicate.
AS: What are your plans after you graduate in November?
AB: I will go to Metro State College here in Denver and study computer science. I will go there for four years or however long I need to go. I want to be a computer programmer.
AB: After your studies at Metro, do you plan to stay here in Colorado or go back to Gabon?
AS: I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
AB: What do you like about Bridge?
AS: I love the new students that come every week. So many students have come and gone and yet I am still here!
AB: Is it difficult for you to make friends here and then see them leave every week?
AS: Yes, it is very difficult for me because I make some really good, close friends and then I have to see them leave and I don’t know if I will ever see them again. It is sad. We talk and we laugh and we play games and then they leave. But I keep in touch with them on the Internet.
AB: How do you like the teachers?
AS: They are great. The teachers are fun and really make classes interesting and challenging. They are also my friends.
AB: What’s your favorite class?
AS: Now, I like the second class which is grammar, listening and speaking. It is nice to learn something new everyday. English grammar is so complicated but it is very interesting and I need to learn it so I can speak better.
AB: What’s the most difficult aspect of English for you?
AS: Understanding the words in certain kinds of music is the most difficult thing now. Before, it was all listening but now I understand all TV shows, sports, movies but it took a long time to get to this point of understanding everything.
AB: Would you recommend Bridge?
AS: Yes, I would recommend Bridge to anyone who wants to learn English. It is a great place for learning and for meeting friends from all over the world.
AB: How do you like Colorado and what are some fun things you have done?
AS: I like Colorado. It can be cold but that’s ok. It’s hot in the summer but Denver has nice people so I really like it. I have been to some Denver Nuggets games. They mostly lost but it was still fun to watch. I haven’t been to the mountains yet. I have been busy taking care of my nieces and nephews so I really don’t have a lot of time to do things like go to the mountains. But I plan on going some day soon.
AB: Anything else you would like to tell students who are looking to learn English?
AS: Good luck. Have fun in Denver and in learning English! You can do it!