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Denver’s Plaza Conversation Maps: Transforming English Language Learning with Empowering Discussions

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January 18, 2024 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm MST

Any library that has hosted ESL classes understands the challenges and complexities of English learning. Libraries are unique spaces that have the potential to challenge traditional classroom power dynamics, bring together unexpected combinations of people, and build civic engagement. Join us to maximize that potential and explore a conversation map tool developed by staff in Plaza, a Denver Public Library program that has led conversation practice groups in Denver since 2008. Staff and volunteers can use this tool to build activities and spaces for transformative conversations.

During this workshop, we will work together to construct a sample 2-hour English conversation practice plan using the Plaza Conversation Map tool. We will also discuss how to apply conversation map strategies to varied groups of participants you may encounter, considering different languages, cultural backgrounds and English proficiency levels.

Register now!

About the Presenters

Virginia Vassar is the Plaza Program Manager for Denver Public Libraries. She worked her way through all roles within this program since 2014, and has a background in middle school Arabic teaching and ESL. She leads a staff body of more than 40 who speak 16 languages to maintain nine resource hubs in Denver’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Jeremey Bongers is a Library Program Associate for the Denver Public Library Plaza Program and works across the city facilitating in-person and online programming that serves Denver’s immigrants and refugees through low-stakes conversation groups, naturalization process support, technology help, and resource navigation. Through his work he strives to bridge connections between people who share a common goal to foster community. He’s worked for the program since 2018 and comes from a background in linguistics working as a tutor and researcher.

Johana Blatherwick is a Library Program Associate. She has been with Plaza since 2019. Johana began her professional career as a school teacher in Venezuela. When she came to the United States, Johana wished to continue teaching but with a clearer objective. She found her purpose working with Denver’s immigrant and refugee communities. Applying her teaching skills and all the experience accumulated as a migrant, she loves helping transition the people to achieve their goals.


January 18, 2024
11:00 am - 12:00 pm MST