"Now we are going to talk about the four types of sentences you have in English," she said to her pupils while writing "question, exclamatory, declarative" and "command" on a white board. Calderon points to a map of California they used earlier to discuss earthquakes.
"Can you think of one that pertains to earthquakes?" she asked. "Give me a question."
One student raised his hand and said haltingly, "What happens when an earthquake starts?"
"Great," said Calderon. "Now give me an exclamatory sentence."
Another student raised her hand and said, "Oh, it is a disaster."
"I like your answers," said Calderon. "Give me another."
And they kept giving, even though it's a weeknight and everyone is tired.
"I think it is a nice class, and it helps us a lot," said Marie Luna. "I live in Oakley and I wish there were more class days. It is important for us to learn English because we live in this country. If we are shy, then we must leave it at home."
"I love to learn English," said Louis Gomez, "and the class is fine for learning."
"The enthusiasm this community has to learn English is amazing," said Calderon. "I live in Oakley myself and I just want to be a part of the community and help my neighbors."
"I think it's important," said school counselor Rick Melgoza, "and I see a huge number of people wanting to learn English. They want to communicate with their children's teachers, they want to be involved, despite what some people think, and they are showing it."
The English as a Second Language Adult Program began in September after parents requested an adult class.
"I think this is what we should have to do for people in the community," said instructor Elisa Duarte. "We (the community) expect them to learn English but we don't offer classes for them."
Melgoza, Calderon and Duarte teamed up to develop a test to measure ability, along with lesson plans to accommodate language learners from beginners to advanced.
They were expecting only 30 parents, but 70 arrived on the first day.
"We had so many people on the first day and the numbers keep growing," said Duarte. "People come in couples as husband and wife, with family members and friends."
In her classroom on Thursday, Duarte discussed possessives and plurals. Students took turns reading sentences from a book about "a dog, dogs and the dog's food" while the instructor followed along with encouraging words spoken in Spanish and English.
"English is very difficult," said Duarte as a translator for a student. "She says she likes the class because they feel like they are being walked through it. In just a short time she has learned so much and wants to encourage others to join and not feel embarrassed."
The class is free to students. For more information, call O'Hara Park Middle School at 625-5060.