How Immigrants Can Find English Classes

The success of most immigrants depends on their ability to learn English

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Language barriers are still among the most formidable obstacles for immigrants coming to the United States, and English can be a difficult language for new arrivals to learn. Immigrants are ready and willing to learn, even if just to improve their fluency in English. Nationally, the demand for English as a second language (ESL) classes have consistently exceeded supply.

Internet

The internet has made it convenient for immigrants to learn the language from their homes. Online you'll find sites with English tutorials, tips and exercises that are an invaluable resource for beginning and intermediate speakers.

Free online English classes such as USA Learns allow immigrants to learn with a teacher or independently and prepare for citizenship tests. Free online ESL courses for both adults and children are invaluable for those who cannot get to classrooms due to schedules, transportation issues, or other barriers.

To partake in free online ESL classes, learners need fast broadband internet, speakers or headphones, and a sound card. Courses offer skills activities in listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Many courses will teach life skills that are so important to succeed at work and in a new community, and instructional materials are almost always online.

Colleges and Schools

Immigrants with beginner, intermediate or high intermediate English-language skills seeking free English classes and looking for more structured learning should check with community colleges in their areas. There are over 1,200 community and junior college campuses scattered across the United States, and the overwhelming majority of them offer ESL classes.

Perhaps the most attractive advantage of community colleges is cost, which is 20% to 80% less expensive than four-year universities. Many also offer ESL programs in the evenings to accommodate immigrants' work schedules. ESL courses in college serve also to help immigrants better understand American culture, improve employment opportunities, and participate in their children's educations.

Immigrants seeking free English classes can also contact their local public school districts. Many high schools have ESL classes in which students get to watch videos, engage in language games, and get real practice watching and hearing others speak English. There might be a small fee at some schools, but the opportunity to practice and improve fluency in a classroom setting is invaluable.

Labor, Career and Resource Centers

Free English classes for immigrants run by nonprofit groups, sometimes in partnership with local government agencies, may be found at local labor, career, and resource centers. One of the best examples of these is the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center in Jupiter, Fla., which offers English classes three nights a week, primarily to immigrants from Central America.

Many resource centers also teach computer classes that enable students to continue their language studies on the internet. Resource centers tend to encourage a relaxed environment for learning, offer parenting skills workshops and citizenship classes, counseling and perhaps legal aid, and co-workers and spouses can schedule classes together to support one another.