How Can Chatham County Immigrants Learn English? Adults have two options – and they’re both free.

For most immigrants who migrate to Chatham County without a command of English, the language is both a concern and an opportunity.

Yet while children can learn English in school, there are many barriers preventing their parents from devoting themselves to the language, including time, availability and cost. To meet this need, two nonprofits in Chatham, Central Carolina Community College and Chatham County Literacy Council, offer free English classes at different times of the week.

Here’s how they do it:

Central Carolina Community College

Free for all, CCCC’s ESL courses are one of the many offerings in its college and career preparation program. As a Title II program, the college’s ESL courses receive federal funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.

“This is why we only hire well qualified instructors trained in ESL / ESOL,” Tammie Quick of CCCC told News + Record. “… Although we know we are doing good, we are not doing good. This is a very professional and sanctioned educational program at the highest level.

CCCC offers classes at the Siler City Center at 400 Progress Blvd. as well as its Chatham Health Sciences Center in Pittsboro. In Pittsboro, CCCC offers ESL evening classes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. In Siler City, students can attend morning classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays or from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Students can also choose to learn online; registrations open weekly.

To register, students can call Julia Herbón, CCCC ESL Senior Instructor, at 919-545-8667 or email her at [email protected] At a minimum, students will be asked to provide their basic contact details. The college does not request documentation status.

“Then we’ll talk in this initial interview to see if the student has already learned English, what their goals are, what they want to do, what region they live in, because we just want to make sure that we don’t let’s just recommend the appropriate class, ”Herbón told News + Record. “We ask about the distance because we have a means of transport. We have free transport in the morning.

Once enrolled, students will take an English placement test to help instructors determine which courses best suit their needs. The college groups students into classes according to their level of English, from beginner to advanced.

In the classroom, students engage in collaborative activities, conversations, and reading and writing, according to Herbón. Instructors get students to play games, use technology, and simulate the language students will use outside of class.

Throughout the program, students will also undergo assessments to test their progress.

“Some of them get better, really fast, and others take care of their time,” Herbón said. “But like I always tell them, if you come to class and engage, you will always move forward. I have never had a student who went down one level. Attendance goes hand in hand with improvement, with progress.

In Chatham County, CCCC’s ESL program serves approximately 100 students. Students come from diverse backgrounds. Most come from Latin American countries, but others also come from other parts of the world. Some have never gone to school or only completed high school; others have higher degrees.

According to Quick, CCCC ESL students routinely go above and beyond the performance measures required by the college; many, too, continue to blow their own goals out of the water.

“They’re improving their speaking skills, their writing skills, so it’s no surprise that these students are improving on the job,” Herbón said. “They’ll get better jobs or a raise … A lot of our students take a GED in English. They graduate; they go to college, so they get certified. This is what we do, so we are seeing great results with our program.

Chatham Literacy

Chatham Literacy, a nonprofit in Siler City, offers a similar set of services to CCCC, according to program coordinator Leslie Ocampo, but with a few key differences.

Among them? A different model, greater scheduling flexibility and a lower student-teacher ratio. Their tutors are all volunteers and teach up to four students at a time.

“Chatham Literacy’s ESOL program is unique in that it offers flexible scheduling and one-on-one and small-group tutoring based on the needs of adult learners,” Ocampo told News + Record. “Our learners work with their tutors to determine the class schedule and how often they meet. “

To register, aspiring students can call Chatham Literacy at 919-742-0578 and make an appointment to start the registration process. During their meeting, students will complete an application form and take a placement test in English.

“Our app primarily requests contact information and general information such as education history and availability,” Ocampo said. “We do not ask for the status of documents and we do not require identification unless someone applies to our citizenship program.”

Only adults 18 years of age and older who live or work in Chatham County are eligible for services. Enrolled students will then have three options: they can teach in person, online, or through “a digital app from their phone or computer,” according to Ocampo.

According to Ocampo, Chatham Literacy’s ESOL program typically serves around 150 students. Half are between 40 and 50 years old and 95% of their students are Hispanic.

When registering to receive Chatham Literacy services, students agree to take one year of tutoring and attend at least one tutoring session each week for two hours. Homework is optional.

“Even if the students are busy, they can work their schedules to give classes in the late evening or even on weekends,” Ocampo said. “It all depends on the compatibility of their schedule with that of their tutors.

Tutors help students progress in all four components of language acquisition – reading, writing, listening and speaking – and to monitor their students’ progress, Chatham Literacy conducts annual reading assessments.

When do students complete the program? Whenever they had achieved the goals or the level of English proficiency, they set themselves.

On average, according to Ocampo, a quarter of students are progressing one level in their reading skills by the time they are assessed in the spring. About 35% continue to check off long-term goals like earning their GED, getting new jobs, or receiving promotions at work.

“80% of our ESOL learners will achieve a short-term goal, which is self-reported by the tutor, such as being able to talk with a child’s teacher, talking with a doctor without their child’s help, improving their conversation skills or increased understanding, ”Ocampo said. “… It’s never too early, never too late to learn.”

Journalist Victoria Johnson can be reached at [email protected]

Comments are closed.