Literacy In Wisconsin: Maria Is Learning English For New Life In U.S.


By Erika Janik | February 8, 2016

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Maria Huerta came to Milwaukee from Mexico with her husband. She knew no English but soon started classes at Journey House in Milwaukee.

“I think learning another language is really hard,” says Huerta. “Other cultures are really different.”

Huerta tries to do everything in English. It’s hard living in a neighborhood with Spanish speakers but she’s gone out of her way to find English-speaking friends so she can practice.

“I have a notebook with a lot of questions,” says Huerta.

She practices her letters and tries to learn new words every day. She also talks with her two children who speak both English and Spanish.

Heurta’s English became so good that she started working at the public library helping other Spanish speakers in 2012. She says she can see the fear in people’s eyes when they come in, hoping to find a friendly face that can help them navigate the library.

“I’ve been there. I know what they are feeling,” says Huerta.

Huerta hopes to keep improving her English.

“I’m not going to stop, I’m going to keep fighting,” says Huerta. “Some people take less time than me but I’m not going to stop. I’m really proud of me because I’ve been working a lot.”

Find a literacy program near you here

Erika Janik

Erika Janik is the co-creator and former executive director of Wisconsin Life. She is the author of six books, including Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction, Apple: A Global History, and  Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She’s currently the executive...
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