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What our partners are doing now...

2 months 3 days 9 hours 44 min ago

We recently hosted a Zoom discussion to discuss how county ESOL programs are responding to COVID 19. This meeting was coordinated to gather information on how coalition members are pivoting their processes to continue serving learners and to identify how MCAEL can best support programs as instruction goes online. 

We had some great suggestions and discussion. Many providers are formulating plans and some have transitioned to online teaching. The tools being used vary, for example, the Literacy Council of Montgomery County and the Ethiopian Community Center are using Google Hangouts while the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center and Montgomery College are using Zoom. Here is some of what our partners shared with us:

Ahu Moser, Director, Academic Programming | Literacy Council of Montgomery County

We currently have all our classes online; between March 16th and March 20th, we did some video recordings. We are using Google Hangouts and we provided both our teachers and students training in how to use Google Hangout. This has been a learning process as our teachers are trying to figure out how to make this online learning more practical, learning new tricks and tips. We are very excited about this and we are all learning as we go through this, but I am happy with our progress.

Roza Beyene, Program Manager | Ethiopian Community Center

We have been having a little bit of tough time since there were no classes and we couldn’t figure out how long these classes would be suspended. But now we have restarted calling our students to see if they would interested in having our classes continued online and most of our students are willing to participate the online class and we choose Google Hangouts for our needs by discussing with the teachers as well as with some of the students who are tech savvy. The challenge that I feel we might face is not every student is tech savvy and not all of them have smart phones so that is going to be our challenge. We have been calling and checking on our students so far and everyone is doing well except for the stress of staying home and not working or going to class so hopeful this will lift their spirit.

Chiao-chiao Liu, Education Director| Chinese Culture and Community Service Center

The last two weeks we have been contacting the students and we found out that the students want to continue learning. I got in touch with my instructors and provided them with some Zoom training to teacher. We are using Zoom for the first time, so this has been a learning experience for me too. We are almost ready and will resume our classes on April 1st. Our classes will be held five days a week; multilevel classes each day. Students who were not able to join us before will be able to join us now since this is online; we are expecting more participants to join then before. We are still learning but everyone is excited.

Emma Wilson,  Adult ESOL & Literacy Program Manager | Montgomery College

ESOL program is continuing instruction; we received support from MC to provide an online platform for our teachers, we are using Zoom. We did our training during spring break and classes resumed online. We are seeing good attendance and seeing different needs from students such as the need for healthcare, childcare, employment, mental health, etc. We are trying to tap into our networks to support our students. It has been a bitter learning experience for the teachers; it has been challenging; we are addressing technical challenges and planning for additional training, but I think that we are at least continuing to engage students and the students are responding well. 

We are thankful for the resilience of our partners and are ready to help where we can to support their work during this critical time.

Professional Development Conference 2020 Keynote Speaker: Crystal Townsend, President & CEO, Healthcare Initiative Foundation

4 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago

Townsend is the President & CEO of the Healthcare Initiative Foundation which supports organizations that offer solutions to improve the capacity, availability and the delivery of quality health and wellness services for Montgomery County residents. The Foundation has distributed over $84 million since inception particularly focused on the most vulnerable in our community. Townsend currently serves on the Leadership Montgomery Board, Montgomery Women, Montgomery Moving Forward Leadership Team, Children’s Opportunity Fund Leadership Team, Regional Primary Coalition Management Team, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Board, and the BlackRock Center for the Arts. Prior board service includes, Nonprofit Montgomery FIRM Advisory Committee, United Way of NCA, Suburban Hospital Community Benefit Advisory Board, County Executive Marc Elrich Transition Team, Committee for Montgomery Board, Friends of Wells Robertson House, Inc., BlackRock Center for the Arts Gala Committee, and Montgomery County Social Services Board.

Preceding her work with the Foundation, Townsend was the City of Gaithersburg's Community Services Director overseeing and coordinating health and human services for City residents. Prior to her service with the city, she served as the Family Support Services Administrator for Family Services, Inc. managing early intervention and home visiting programs. Earlier in her career, she was the Healthy Families Frederick Program Manager, Legislative Director for the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania, and the Domestic Violence Shelter Manager for Heartly House. Townsend attained her Bachelor of Arts from Hood College in Law and Society and holds a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University from the International Public Service and Development Program. 

 

Organization Spotlight: Neelsville Presbyterian Church

5 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago

Can you describe your ESOL program and how your program came to be?

This program is offered as a ministry of Neelsville Presbyterian Church in Germantown. We have a small program on Saturday mornings, with between 50 and 70 students. The classes are two hours long, plus  we have a mixed-level walk-in conversation hour most Saturdays after classes. The class year is from September through May with a break during the holidays. We have multiple beginner level classes, as the greatest percentage of students that come are at the beginner level. Presently, we have three beginner classes, 1 level two, 1 level three, and a conversation class for those primarily needing conversation. In addition, all of our teachers and the director are volunteers. The classes are offered free of charge, including the books. Our program is advertised, both through the MCAEL provider list/brochure and by our sign placed on the side of the road in front of the church one week before classes begin in September. We offer a rolling registration as long as there is room for new students. We are commanded in the scriptures to be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name. The program came to exist in the early 2000s through a vision of a few members of the church, with Betty Velthuis as the director, who had a burden to help the growing immigrant community around the church. To date, the program has helped more than 500 of our immigrant neighbors.
 
What are the demographics of your learners? For example, country of origin, male/female, occupation?
 
Our demographics are truly a reflection of the immigrant community in the Germantown area and the immediate needs of the community. The make-up of our student population is very fluid and changes from year-to-year. Usually, about half of our students are from Latin America, with the rest being from many different countries. We have had students from Iran, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Japan, Ukraine, Portugal, Vietnam, Madagascar, to name a few. We have both male and female students, although we tend to have more females. Most of our learners are working in labor and entry-level positions, mostly due to their need for English; however, we sometimes have professionals as well.

For readers who may not be familiar with your ESOL program, what are some things you would like them to know about your program? 

Our program is a program for the immigrant population who cannot afford to attend more formal/collegiate programs, such as that at Montgomery College. Our goal is to make English learning available to all free of charge. Our registration is not restrictive. This means we are open to all and as long as we have room in our classes, we continue to accept walk-ins that were not aware of our program during the main registration period. Also, as we are on a main bus line, our facilities are easily accessible by bus for those without private transportation.

Can you share a recent success story? 

We have many success stories. Some of our students practiced a profession in their home countries but cannot get jobs because of their limited English language ability. After they attend our program and improve their language proficiency, they are able to gain employment in their field. One good example is Eva. She was a nurse in her home country. After being with us for 1 year, she was able to get a job as a nurse. Mohammad was able to begin his own contractor business. It is very rewarding to hear these stories. Edgar is a University professor and needed to improve his English.

Steve Amar is the director of the Neelsville Presbyterian Church English program. He has a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Intercultural Studies through Columbia International University. He has been with the program since 2011, and began directing the program in 2017. His forte is teaching Beginning English. He is a pastor in the Persian community in Montgomery County.

Interview by Halima Ahmed

Community Member Highlight - Laura Cerezo Varga, Mother of the Junior Mayor of Gaithersburg

6 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago

Cerezo FamilyIn September MCAEL attended the Gaithersburg Principals Appreciation Breakfast. While attending I was impressed with the principals, the Gaithersburg City staff and with Diego Flores-Cerezo, the Junior Mayor of Gaithersburg. I had the pleasure of sitting at a table with his father who looked on in pride as his son delivered welcoming remarks. I wanted to learn more about Diego's family and they agreed to share some of their story in the context of ESOL with MCAEL. Here is Laura Cerezo Vargas, Diego's mom sharing her story with us:

I am from Mexico from the state of Puebla. Since arriving in the United States, I have lived in Gaithersburg for more than 12 years. In my country I studied a little bit of English, but I never practiced it. When I arrived here, I found myself in need and understood that I had to learn to be able to communicate anywhere. 

I have taken ESOL classes in different schools, Gaithersburg High School, Montgomery Village Middle School, Gaithersburg Middle School and lastly an adult ESOL course at Montgomery College. I took English classes to validate the studies that I have in my country. In Mexico I studied nursing. I then took English classes to be able to communicate and help my children with their education, and now I continue taking classes to improve my work. I work as a Teacher Assistant in a Private Preschool. I have two children, one of four and Diego, who is 10 years old next month. Diego has found it a bit difficult to learn Spanish and the little one is excited to learn Spanish. I feel proud of where I am from, one of the ways I keep my culture alive is by celebrating Mexican holidays, for example a traditional celebration for us is the Day of the Dead honoring the memory of our ancestors. 

It has given us great pride and joy that our son has been serving as the Junior Mayor of the beautiful city of Gaithersburg. And it is a great experience as a family to share this with the Mayor and the members of the City Council of Gaithersburg. To other immigrant families I would say it’s important to talk about the experience we have had as parents, we are very supportive of our children. We believe that the fundamental thing is to keep the family together. 

During the time that I have lived in this country I have learned that it is essential to learn English. As immigrants, we are afraid of talking fearing that people will laugh at the way we talk. However, we must be willing to practice and not give up on learning another language.

Interview by Monica Casañas

Organization Spotlight: International Language Institute

6 months 4 weeks 8 hours 44 min ago

For this month's spotlight, I reached out to Hallie Wallack (bio below) to share with us about classes offered at the International Language Institute (ILI). 

Can you describe your history and how your organization came to be?
ILI, MD began as English House in 1995 as in independent school of English as a Second Language in Gaithersburg, MD.  When the owner had to relocate to the west coast, the school was purchased by the owners of the International Language Institute in Washington, DC.  Our program has two main goals:  we prepare students for the transition to higher education institutions, and we also help the local immigrant population improve their language skills to better integrate into their communities.

We offer excellent quality of instruction from dedicated, professional teachers.  We also provide a safe, comfortable place for students who are living far from home.  They can come here knowing that the staff will care about their progress in and out of the classroom, and many people stay in touch after they move on.

Demographics of Learners:
Our students come from all over the world:  South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.  The largest demographic is Spanish speakers, but we also have speakers of Portuguese, French, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Burmese, German, Russian, Indonesian and Arabic.  There are about three times as many women as men.  Occupations also run the gamut:  engineers, housewives/moms, teachers, medical professionals, business owners, researchers, restaurant workers, carpenters, painters, landscapers and Uber drivers.

Recent Success Stories:
A Saudi student got his law degree, a Chinese student who was so insecure she couldn’t speak English out loud has finally begun speaking and participating in class, a Colombian student got her PhD, a Turkish student returned home and got a job working for an airline, a Brazilian student returned home and got a job working in luxury hotel, a Saudi student who transferred to flight school and now works as a pilot, and a Dominican student here on a green card who is learning helicopter repair in the army.

Hallie Wallack got her Master’s in TESOL from SUNY at Stony Brook.  She taught in Switzerland, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and England in addition to the US.  She came to ILI, MD in 2001 as an ESL teacher, and then became the Director in 2006.

Interview by Halima Ahmed

Staying on top of a new trend - Proliteracy takeaways

7 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago

I enjoy professional conferences as they offer an opportunity to spend a couple of days catching up on the latest trends in support of professional development. This year I attended the ProLiteracy Conference as part of the MCAEL team presenting the formal unveiling of the “Program Administrator Tool Kit.” Our session was one example of the wide variety of presentations available.  Other topics ranged from issues regarding reduction of poverty, to opportunities to discuss fundraising issues, understanding the characteristics of learners and finding new ways to reach students.  The entire program was designed to appeal to a diverse group of participants interested in the same goal:  to change the lives of adults through the power of literacy. 

Like any good conference, the pre-conference sessions, presentations and special events offered topics of interest for the large number of participants who were attending from across the country.  Every title appealed to professionals in different levels of experience, administration, and goals for their learners.  

Flipping through the program book, the most discussed topic during this year’s conference focused on digital Literacy. This was of special interest to me and the adult learners in the ESOL and Adult Literacy Program for Catholic Charities as we have introduced the use of Chromebooks, phone apps, and distance learning concepts into our classrooms. The fact that digital literacy was so prevalent, solidified the notion that now, more than before, our learners need to be digitally competent.  The conference itself was heavily digitally infused. Every session room was equipped with computer access, speakers, microphones, and a projector.  All conference participants could download the conference app. The conference evaluations could be submitted on-line.  The “cloud” was not just a beautiful formation in the ski, but a tool that we needed to access. The fact that the ProLit conference was heavily digital, emphasizes the current trends of living in a digitally saturated era.  The present and future of adult learner education is clear: they must become digitally literate, and we can help them get there. 

There were several choices of presentations focusing on utilizing technology to work with learners.  For example, I attended a session on “Using Online Learning to Prepare Adults for the Workplace”. The presenters shared the importance of employees to have the skills to enter a changing workplace.  ProLit created an easy to use (and free) set of educational resources to help learners navigate topics regarding employment. The on-line resource covers four basic topics: setting career goals, tailoring a resume, acing the interview and communicating at work.  Each topic comes with easy to use navigation instructions, designed for learners with basic literacy skills, with colorful icons and both audio and written instructions.  Each learner may create an account ™and work towards completing the series.  There is also an instructor module to provide support to the learners.  The resource is available after creating a free account at www.proliteracyednet.org/workforce

Another session focused on helping Spanish-speaking learners to learn to read, write and become digitally literate.  The program “Leamos”™ is also a self-paced, lesson by lesson, comprehensive course for learners who never attended school or only attended up to the 2nd grade level.  This course requires a bit more administrative involvement and there are basic needs to run the program: access to WiFi, computers or laptops, headphones, and a workbook.  The administrator for “Leamos” must create an account to manage all learners’ progress. It’s a good resource to introduce learners to this new era of learning.  The information for the program is available at www.proliteracy.org/Leamos.

These are just two of the many examples of programs designed to incorporate digital literacy to the adult learners.  It is clear that our learners must become comfortable in a digital world.  From creating an account to visit a doctor’s office, to receiving information about children in school, to applying for a job, all of these require a level of comfort with the use and navigation of technology. The need is great, and we have a responsibility to assist our participants to get there. Easier said than done as each session also highlighted the barriers to utilizing technology.  We heard from different colleagues across the country about issues on the lack of internet connectivity, the fact that not all learners have access to computers, and the cost of internet access. And we also heard about solutions: utilization of library resources, reaching out to companies that provide support to low income families to get access to reduced cost or even free internet connection, or programs that assist individuals and families to get computers in their homes. Thinking and working with colleagues about the solutions to the problems reminded me of the importance of attending a professional conference: I got to connect with others who have similar goals and can share their experiences so I can learn something new and bring it back to my community. 

I look forward to implementing some of what I learned.  Especially around employment and language learning.  

Laura Irwin
ESOL Supervisor
Catholic Charities
 

Provider Spotlight: Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, Inc. (CCACC)

7 months 2 weeks 9 hours 44 min ago


We recently caught up with the CCACC to learn more about their organization. They will soon be celebrating 37 years of service to their community. Here is what Felicia Tchen, Administrative Specialist & Education Division Assistant shared with us:

Established in 1982 as an organization of local community activities, the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, Inc. (CCACC) has evolved into a major information and services provider of community services for Chinese Americans in the Metropolitan Washington DC area. Its mission is to enrich families through educational, cultural, health, and social service programs, and to promote mutual understanding, awareness, and appreciation of Chinese and American cultures and heritages. CCACC was founded and run by volunteers, and remains an organization largely composed of volunteers today.

The CCACC Adult ESOL program was established in 1988 as a vital tool for integrating non-English speaking residents into the community, especially Chinese immigrants looking to better adapt to their new life in the U.S. The program is especially important to our organization, as nearly all of the staff and volunteers are 1st generation U.S. citizens themselves. We conduct citizenship application workshops in collaboration with the US Citizenship Immigration Service and provide citizenship preparation classes to prepare applicants for the interview process, in addition to conducting career training seminars and workshops to help immigrants seeking to apply for employment. Over the years, the program has grown from one single class to over 20 classes a year today.

Almost 100% of the learners enrolled in our ESOL program are Chinese. We have both males and females (with more females than males) and their ages range from 22 to 75. All of the students come from China, with a handful of them being new immigrants hoping to settle down in the country and get a job.

CCACC employs a vast array of programs to achieve its mission. Aside from the Adult ESOL program, we also run an After-School Enrichment program 5-days a week for elementary school children and operate CLAPS Chinese School on weekends for people of all ages seeking to learn Chinese. The Pan Asian Volunteer Health Clinic (PAVHC) helps low income residents receive medical and mental health care, regardless of insurance status, and free of language barriers. We also have an Adult Day Health Care Center for seniors, providing them transportation to the doctors, as well as the service of on-site nurses 7-days a week. That way, they can come socialize and participate in various activities throughout the week without worry. Our Evergreen Club provides opportunities for seniors to be active within the community, combating the sense of isolation that many of them face. Moreover, we have a Home Care program for those in need of assistance cooking, cleaning, and doing chores around the house. CCACC is also home to a variety of clubs and activities, with everything from arts and crafts, music, dance, martial arts, photography, sports...the list goes on.  Finally, our CCACC Art Gallery hosts the artwork of both local and international, Asian and Western artists throughout the year. There's something for everyone at CCACC - come pay us a visit and we'll show you around!

ZhengYun was in our citizenship preparation class. She was a very hardworking student but was a little shy and nervous about taking the test. However, she passed the test just a few months ago! She came back to share her experiences with the current citizenship class and answered many of their questions. She encourages all students taking the citizenship test not to be afraid to ask questions during the test, and to just do their best.

We are planning on organizing a potluck dinner around Christmas time with our ESOL students. Our students are all on different schedules, making it hard to get everyone together, but we would like to celebrate with our students outside of the classroom and thank them for all their hard work in trying to learn English to get more involved with the community.

Every year, we are always looking for native English-speakers to help with interviews during the preparation period prior to the citizenship exam. We greatly welcome any and all individuals interested in helping!

The CCACC is a great example of the spectrum of providers in our coalition. We partner with organizations that community members trust, that are culturally competent and connected to learner populations.

Organization Spotlight: Bethesda Chevy Chase (BCC) English Conversation Club

7 months 4 weeks 9 hours 44 min ago
Bethesda Chevy Chase (BCC) English Conversation Club

For this month's spotlight, I reached out to Patricia and Noreen (bio below) to share with us about their English Conversation Club.

Can you describe your ESOL program?

This is the BCC English Conversation Club’s 10th year of drop-in meetings for people who would like to practice conversational English to increase their confidence and ease of communication. Participants meet in a conference room at the BCC Regional Services Center in Bethesda on Wednesday mornings for 1.5 hours of informative and scintillating conversation. We provide a friendly, hospitable atmosphere for participants to connect with each other and to learn about their American community. 

What are the demographics of learners, country of origin, occupation?

30-35 countries are represented annually – not all at one time – during the course of the year.  On average 10-15 people attend each meeting.  Many attendees have advanced academic degrees and are professionals in their home country.  They are dynamic, inquisitive and interested in sharing information about their own country and experiences in other international places.  

For readers who may not be familiar with your conversation club, what are some things you would like them to know about your program?

We begin the meetings with each participant talking with the whole group about an experience from the past week.  Then, in smaller groups, participants speak, listen and interact.  A timely topic is discussed with a prepared written hand-out with questions.  
An example:  We discussed gun control and gun rights terminology, providing definition and clarification of commonly heard terms. 

Can you share a recent success story?

Our success stories are the participants who have “graduated”: the Italian physical education instructor who was able to resume his career here – in English; the Russian accountant who began a new career as a medical records technician; the Tajik beautician who is pursuing a license as a US esthetician.  
But especially, the Japanese woman who has returned to her country with the understanding that the US values diversity.  At her last meeting with the group, she shared with participants her notebook of our topics with notations, and a map marked with participants’ countries to which she had been exposed.

Patricia has volunteered in different levels of Montgomery County ESOL programs. She attended a class in Montgomery College’s TESOL Certification program, supported by a MCAEL stipend.

Noreen has lived in many countries and can share experiences of different languages and cultures. 

Organization Spotlight: Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative

9 months 1 day 9 hours 44 min ago

For this month's spotlight, I reached out to Georgia Portocarrero and Winanne Kreger (bio below) to share with us about the Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative's (GBCI) English Conversation Group. 

Can you describe your ESOL program and how your organization came to be?

The GBCI English Conversation Group was started in 2012 by a group of Asbury Methodist Village (a retirement community in Gaithersburg) residents and two members of the Gaithersburg community, under the aegis of the Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative. This is one of a number of programs GBCI has developed to foster collaboration and communication between Asbury residents and members of the surrounding community.
Volunteers from AMV and neighboring areas meet weekly for an hour with second language learners who come from Gaithersburg and Germantown to improve their English conversation skills.  When the group started there were five participants, who spoke very little English. As the group grew, it was split into two levels, one for beginners and the other for intermediate students. 

What are the demographics of learners?

The majority of our participants are women from Central and South America, although we have had learners from Asian countries and for several years the husband of one of our participants was part of the group.  Many of the women have babies and pre-school children who play in a nearby space while their mothers practice English.

For readers who may not be familiar with GBCI and your ESOL program, what are some things you would like them to know about your program?

Currently, the GBCI English Conversation Group meets for eleven sessions in the Fall (September-December) and eleven sessions in the Spring (March-June).  Participants are given a certificate if they attend at least eight of the eleven sessions.  
During each semester, we discuss topics that are generated by the participants and the volunteers.  We also invite speakers from the community to provide information about issues and resources of interest to the group. We have had speakers talk about immigration, gangs, nutrition and food banks, women’s health issues and public library programs, among other topics.
In addition to providing an opportunity for learning English and gaining information about community resources, this class functions as a place for participants to network and support one another.

Can you share a recent success story?

Milagro Rivera Flores, one of the founders of and first participants in the group, was very shy and spoke little English when she partnered with the AMV volunteers to organize the group and become the liaison between GBCI and the Gaithersburg community. Over time her English improved, she developed confidence in her ability to network in the community and started organizing workshops and events for her fellow immigrants. She also started Mujer Fuerza y Coraje (Powerful and Courageous Women), a group dedicated to mutual support and empowerment of women. In 2017 she received the MCPS Board of Education Distinguished Service in Public Education Award. In addition, she has recently received an award as one of the 100 top female leaders in the DC Metropolitan Hispanic community.  

Georgia Portocarrero taught at bilingual schools in Mexico and worked as an ESOL teacher for MCPS.  After retiring, she taught Workplace English for MCPS.  She has been co-leader of the GBCI English Conversation Group since 2015.   

Winanne Kreger worked as an internal organization development consultant and mediator for an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she worked with individuals and work teams across the United States and in countries around the world until her retirement in 2010.
Winanne has enjoyed working with this group since 2013. This is her first experience working with English as a Second Language learners. 

Organization Spotlight: Cedarbrook Community Church

9 months 2 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago

For this month's spotlight, we spoke with Barbara Goodno. Ms. Goodno is the Program Manager for Cedarbrook Community Church's ESOL Program. She’s been part of the program since the beginning, serving first as assistant director to Millie Walters, whose vision in 2004 was to bring English classes to adult internationals in upper Montgomery County.  Since that first year, Barb has also served as an intermediate and advanced instructor.  In her professional life she is a senior program manager for the government, currently serving as the associate director for online learning.  She is an avid volunteer who encourages others to join this marvelous team -- "you get so much more than you give!"

Can you tell us a little bit about your ESOL program?

Each Wednesday evening, from 7-9 p.m., Cedarbrook Community Church in Clarksburg, Maryland, offers conversational English classes for learners at five levels – from beginners to advanced. Planning for the program began in 2005 when a church member noted that many of the residents in the newly built neighborhoods in Clarksburg were adult internationals. Her work with MCAEL confirmed the need, and on September 2006, the ESOL program began. Since then, estimates are that more than 1,200 learners have participated in the classes.

What are the demographics of your learners?

In May at our last class, we celebrated our students’ achievements.  As part of that celebration, our decorated space included the flags of their home countries – last year there were 45 flags. So, to answer your question -- our learners’ backgrounds are quite diverse!  While many are from countries in Central and South America, we’ve hosted learners from Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. During our break time (when the use of the heart language is OK), we hear Spanish, French, Korean, Vietnamese, Farsi, Russian – and others.  As for occupations, that is also quite varied.  In their home countries, many have had professional degrees; here in the U.S., they work in a variety of fields to include health care, childcare, education, management and landscaping.  Several of our learners are business owners.

For readers who may not be familiar with your ESOL program, what are some things you would like them to know about your program/s? 

Our program is filled with highly motivated adult learners – we learn so much from them!  This year, classes will begin on Wednesday, September 18 and will conclude on Wednesday, May 27.  There is no charge for the classes except for a one-time book fee of $24.  We offer a rolling registration; learners are welcome to join the classes at any time.  The first meeting begins with an assessment to help with placement – we work hard at offering a program that balances challenge with mastery of what they already know.  We follow the Montgomery County Public School calendar for vacations and weather delays and cancellation.  

Top five reasons our learners attend ESOL classes based on one of our internal surveys:

  • To speak English
  • Practice pronunciation
  • Listen and understand
  • Write to be understood (with correct grammar)
  • Read and understand more clearly what is written

Can you share a recent success story? 

There are so many!  The one that comes to mind immediately is our learner who started in our program as a beginner several years ago.  Now an intermediate-level student, this past October he took his citizenship test – and passed!  His classmates helped him prepare (by quizzing him – he had to know the answers, which he of course did).  Getting his citizenship was a long-time goal and it was a joy to share this accomplishment with him. 

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