Volunteer hopes free class empowers community
Arizona Republic
May 15, 2008

by Colleen Sparks - May. 15, 2008 01:43 PM
The Arizona Republic

It's a simple concept: Sign up, show up with a pen and paper, and learn to speak English.
And it's free - no catch.
That's the philosophy behind an informal school that Ahwatukee Foothills resident Andy Krals started in Guadalupe about a month ago.
Krals, 35, who taught English at a high school in Japan from 1995 to '98, opened Escuela de Ingles Gratis in the Mercado de Guadalupe plaza at 9201 S. Avenida del Yaqui.
The school he created is not a non-profit or incorporated entity. It's basically just him and a volunteer teaching the language to any adults who sign up. Neither Krals nor the volunteer is paid.
They have been teaching the language in one-hour classes on Sunday afternoons. The volunteer is planning to move so Krals is looking for more volunteers. Guadalupe donated the building space, Krals said.
"My vision is a vibrant school that's got daily packed classes," Krals said. "I'm going to expand as the volunteers and students demand.
"There's a huge need out there. I know that a lot of people can really benefit from this."
So far about 12 people per class have shown up most Sundays, Krals said. The classes recently expanded to starting times at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
He said students are native Spanish speakers and some are from Mexico and some from Guatemala. Many have lived in the United States many years but don't know English.
Krals teaches students how to introduce themselves, discuss money and other practical, real-world skills to "handle life situations with confidence." He uses a self-published instructional book he wrote while in Japan, which he has had translated into Spanish.
"My buzz word is empowerment," Krals said. "If there's an opportunity, I want people to be able to take it. I'm a big believer in no limitations."
A real-estate investor the past eight years, he knew he wanted to teach again.
"I love teaching," Krals said, adding that the school was "a philanthropic concept cooking around in my head for 10 years."
Mario Camacho, a Tempe resident who owns La Store in the same complex as the school, plans to volunteer on a week night at the school as demand grows.
Camacho said he wants to help others because he spent much of his childhood in Mexico and had to learn English when his family moved back to Chicago around age 12.
"I love helping people," he said. "People need to learn English. If I change one person and then that person could change someone else, then I'm happy."
Camacho said he would love to teach children English.
His wife, Alma Camacho, keeps a list of people who want to take Krals' classes.
Anyone interested in teaching the class must know English and be willing to teach a one-hour class once a week. No teaching experience is needed. For information, contact