‘The language of opportunity’: SACSS class helps immigrants learn English to achieve their education, career goals.

‘The language of opportunity’: SACSS class helps immigrants learn English to achieve their education, career goals.

In January, we were delighted to welcome 16 students to our English Beginner’s class. Every Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon, they learn the basics of the language and how to communicate with each other.

The program teaches students English proficiency through comprehensive instruction in speaking, listening, reading and writing, according to SACSS ESOL Instructor Rema Venu.

“We don’t expect students to have any prior knowledge of English. This class is for beginners who don’t know the alphabet, how to make words, and how to use words in English,” Venu said. “It’s getting them to understand how to spell simple words, make sentences and express themselves, from greetings to structuring a statement, making small talk and asking or responding to questions.”

Everyone speaks the language in class, Venu said, which encourages them to be more confident outside the classroom. Concepts and words are explained through drawings, synonyms, mime or video and occasionally through a translation.

Students come from Latin American countries such as the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Venezuela as well as from India and Bangladesh. While some are recent visitors, others have lived in the U.S. for a few years.

Abdul, who immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh, said learning English will help him find a job.

“I’ve been living in the U.S. for four months now. I want to be able to work, and taking the English class at SACSS has helped me improve my ability to speak English and makes me feel more confident,” he said.

His peer, Norma, from El Salvador, said it has been difficult for her to converse with anyone who did not speak Spanish.

“When people approach me outside and ask me a question in English, I don’t know what to say or how to answer,” she said. “This is now changing”, she added. The class is helping Norma tackle everyday communication challenges and she hopes to find a job soon.

For non-English speaking immigrants, learning the language helps them integrate into their communities, encouraging social interaction and avoiding isolation. It also opens the doors to opportunities such as entering the workforce and having independence to do things for themselves.

Here at SACSS, we’re all about empowering our community members, and we’re proud to help our students achieve their goals and dreams with our guidance and support.