Free ESL classes provided for Fallon area teachers, students
Those interested in studying or teaching English as a second language (ESL) are invited to be part of free, local classes.
One-on-one classes and small group classes of two to five are available in-home or at public settings like the Churchill County Library.
There are currently beginning, intermediate and advanced classes that cover ESL, English conversation, reading and writing, workplace communication, U.S. citizenship study, General Education Development (GED) preparation as well as financial and computer literacy.
“We get calls every day; they want help.” said Florence Phillips, executive director of the non-profit ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, which she founded 12 years ago.
Phillips’ parents — immigrants who believed in the importance of education and independence — inspired her. She served three tours of duty in three countries as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and saw firsthand how hard it is to learn a new language.
She said her program offers people the opportunity to achieve their full potential as productive members in their community. She also emphasized tutors are key to the organization’s mission.
“The rewards are immeasurable,” she said. “My students are so grateful to their tutors that they even cook for them. It’s such a cultural experience. It’s very rewarding and fulfilling. Although the volunteers are all ages, we have a lot of retired seniors that tutor a couple of times a week.
It takes an hour to train tutors in the curriculum, and it’s at the volunteer’s convenience for a date, time and location. Tutors then provide one to two hours per week of their spare time for their students.
If tutoring isn’t possible, Phillips suggested tax-deductible donations of any amount. A donation of $35 pays for a student skill book and reader, and $100 pays for student books and a teacher manual for one student for a year.
“There is a small group of adults in Fallon,” Phillips explained, “for whom daily living is an overpowering struggle to survive. They come from vastly different cultures and speak little or no English. They were hoping to be a productive part of society and fulfill their dreams. Instead, they find they’re trapped in near poverty by their lack of linguistic skill and cultural awareness.”
She continued that ESL classes help families in talking to their children’s teachers at school, or medical personnel, all without the expensive interpreters. The courses are also aid ESL students in getting jobs and excelling in current positions as their English progresses.
For families who have children in school, the program’s focus is on teaching the parents so they can help their children with homework. As a result, Phillips said, their kids’ school classes start running more smoothly
Phillips’ ESL In-Home Program started as a one-person tutoring service. It has grown to 205 tutors teaching 482 students. She said some immigrants who come to the program speak two or three other languages and have received advanced education degrees from their country of origin. Others have no English speaking, reading or writing skills. The program has helped over 5,000 adults and families advance in life and over 215 people are now U.S. citizens because of the program.
Many of the participants’ goals are to become U.S. citizens, advance their employment and more easily frequent English-speaking businesses. Some are grandparents desiring to read stories in English to their grandchildren. Many stay six months to a year until they can manage the language demands of their job, and some continue until they can enter high education institutions.