Jacqueline Parrott is one of dozens of success stories coming out of the Deseret Industries' efforts to teach English as a second language.
As a newlywed, she came to Salt Lake City from Paraguay in August 1996, following her husband, Hollin David Parrott, who had come ahead to find a job. In Paraguay, she worked as an administrative assistant for a construction company and as a travel agent. However, speaking only Castillian Spanish and Guarani, a language native to Paraguay, she was unable to find comparable work in Utah.She said, "I could say only a few words in English, words such as `hello,' and a few phrases, such as, `How are you?' I was very shy and timid about trying to speak English at first because I was afraid I would make mistakes. But I've learned that it's through mistakes that we learn to speak better.
"After I had been here for about three months, my ears sort of `opened up' to English - I could understand quite a bit, but I couldn't speak very well. I had a lot of trouble with grammar and sentence construction."
She went to work at the Deseret Industries sort center in October 1996. Her assignment was sorting denim clothing. Along with learning new work skills and customs of the United States, she began to seriously study English by attending classes at both the sort center and Salt Lake Community College. She began reading the Book of Mormon in English.
"Our teacher at the sort center was very helpful," said Sister Parrott, a member of the Rose Park 10th Ward, Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. "She helped us with vocabulary, taught us how to use words in different situations and how to carry on a conversation. Little by little, I was able to speak in English. Every day, I got more confident and could hear different words and apply them to my vocabulary. I enjoy speaking English now. Sometimes, I'm surprised that I can speak in English. I can have a conversation with people around me. I'm not afraid to go to the store or to ask for what I need."
As Sister Parrott's English language skills improved, she was transferred to a receptionist's position at the sort center, a job that required her to answer phones, greet the public and receive donations. She also performed other secretarial and clerical duties. Recently, she began working as a teller at a credit union in Salt Lake City.
"It would be very lonely to live here and not speak English," she said. "The Church has done so much to help me and many others. This has been a blessing. Most people don't know the kind of effort that the Church makes for people like me."