Learning English Is not only necessary for basic living in the United States. It is the key that opens the door to many of the opportunities that many immigrants have uprooted their lives to acquire for themselves and their children.
While children have access to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) in the public school system, adults must attend classes in adult education centers.
There are various types ESOL classes from which to choose, and different styles of teaching that are geared toward adult students' needs. Before signing up for ESOL classes, a prospective student should consider the following factors.
What are your goals for attending ESOL classes?
You must choose the ESOL class that most reflects the skills that you wish to acquire to achieve specific goals.
Basic survival skills
If you simply wish to be able to communicate in English in order to perform basic tasks such as shopping, working, and paying bills, you need a class that teaches with a "top-down" approach.
Instead of focusing on written language skills that start with the basic components of English, this style of teaching immerses the students in the spoken variety of English, which is vastly different from written "standard" English.
Common words and useful phrases are taught and dissected into their component parts. Sentences such as "Where is the post office?" can be learned and used immediately to navigate through the world outside the classroom, and can also be used in class to teach vocabulary and sentence structure.
ESOL classes for higher education
Some non-native speakers can communicate well in spoken English, but need to learn the grammatical structures of written "standard" English for college or graduate school.
Because much of higher education consists of writing papers and studying complex reading materials, ESOL classes that use a "bottom -up" approach, which is the way that English is first taught to children, are a better fit for students that need to learn the basic structure of the language.
Of course, students must find a class that matches their current skills. Many adult education centers offer classes for beginners as well as advanced classes for those simply seeking to enhance their current knowledge of the structure of American English.
Types of ESOL classes that should be viewed with caution
Some community centers and other civic organizations offer free or lost cost ESOL classes that are funded by government grants. While there are many good classes, some are drastically understaffed for the needs of local immigrant communities.
Facilities that feature multi-level classes that combine ESOL students of various levels in the same class are not able to effectively teach students as those that offer separate classes for each level from beginner to advanced.
Classes that offer a "revolving door" policy, allowing students to join and leave classes at any point in the curriculum year are not able to provide a stable and cohesive curriculum, but must always adapt it for new arrivals.
Some of these classes are funded by the number of students that enroll, rather than the number that complete classes, so they have little incentive to change these disruptive policies.
Just do your research before you decide on an ESOL class, and if it's not a good fit, keep looking until you find the class that best suits your needs.
Contact an adult education center, such as Pioneer Career & Technology Center, for further assistance.