English as a Second Language (ESL) Sub-Committee
WHAT WE'VE LEARNED SO FAR
At our mid-November meeting, Cal Johnson reported on her initial research on English as a Second Language (ESL) which is now generally referred to as ESOL, English for Speakers of Other Languages. She began by getting in touch with Carmen Gregory, who had worked with one of the Vietnamese families Holy Trinity sponsored in the early 1980s. In that case, the father spoke very good English and found a job readily. The mother had an infant and younger children so was not able to attend classes, so Carmen and Carol Scholz decided to tutor her at home. They bought flash cards, taught both mother and children vocabulary and how to go to the grocery store. They shared a newspaper and coupons with her and took her shopping. It was difficult for the mother to learn English but the eldest a girl picked it up very fast and she could help her Mom and siblings with this.
Cal then called Danvers High School about ESOL classes and was referred to an agency in Lynn. The contact person from Lynn agency (probably the New American Center) explained that we would need to bring our refugee learners to Lynn to fill out an application to register for classes, and that someone would need to come with them to help them understand and answer the questions. The closest classes would be at North Shore Community College. There is a fee, but apparently one can apply for financial aid.
Ray Tilton noted that Catholic Charities said that the New American Center in Lynn must take all ESOL refugee applicants, and that there is no wait list or cost involved for refugees. It is not yet clear whether ALL ESOL classes are free for refugees, or only those held at the New American Center in Lynn. The issue is the inconvenience of transporting a family to frequent classes in Lynn, so we should research the Salem/Peabody area for ESOL services.
Learning English as quickly as possible will be a big factor for a family becoming self-sustaining. ESOL classes are required for immigrants receiving welfare, and the better their English, the more they can earn. See the video at left from English for New Bostonians to hear immigrants and refugees talking about their experiences learning English. For links to more information about learning English, go to our ESOL Resources page.