Grant Is Supporting ESL classes

Not so long ago, the Maplewood Memorial Library received the largest grant ever in the Library’s history.

The grant ($72,053) came from he pilot program of the Adult Literacy & Community Library Partnership (New Jersey’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development), and is a great help to fund the Library’s ESL (English as a second language) program. The Maplewood Memorial Library library is using the grant for 4 level-1 ESL courses and 2 conversation groups.

The courses are offered in partnership with the Passaic and Essex counties Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) chapters, and are available at no cost.

People who don’t speak English encounter serious disadvantages when they apply for a job, when they want to use a computer, or when writing their name, resumes, or filling out forms.

People who are not able to speak and communicate in English have greater disadvantages in the workforce community and cannot be part of their community like people who do command the language.

At the moment, the Maplewood library is providing ESL instruction through the LVA, but the new fund allows for teacher-led classes being that are more rigorous.

Learners in the ESL classes will be taught basic communication skills, whereas the more advanced learners can use the conversation groups to boost their English skills. For all classes, students are required to meet the criteria for Title II funding.

These new classes are also a lot longer than the earlier tutoring sessions, as they last for 12 weeks, and are 6 hours per week. Earlier, the classes lasted for 2 hours per week, but New Jersey recently introduced a minimum requirement of 4 hours a week.

A 2015 U.S. Census study has made clear that in 25% of New Jersey families, the main language spoken is other than English, and in Maplewood particularly, just under 20% of all families use a language different from English as their first language at home.

So with so many families not having the ability to speak and communicate in the English language, the library sees it as essential to offer as much ESL instruction as possible. Otherwise a lot of people, particularly those from overseas, may feel isolated and not able to work on improving their lives.

Just give it a little more thought. Suppose you would come to a strange country without knowing the language. You can not communicate, you wouldn’t know simple things like ordering a sandwich as you couldn’t say how you want it, what ingredients you would like to order. So that’s how complicated it gets.

The easiest things that we are taking for granted, my be quite a struggle for immigrants. LVA is grateful that the Maplewood Library has agreed to work together with the organization for obtaining the grant.

The LVA (Essex and Passaic counties) is teaching English to more than 900 adults each year, and thanks to the grant and the cooperation with the Library, many more adults will be able to learn English. If the grant will be available again next year, both the Library and LVA agree they would apply again.

Registration for ESL classes at the library’s Hilton branch is possible at any time by visiting the library or by contacting the LVA (973-566-6200, ext. 217) to set an appointment. Adult Learners need to pay a $25 application fee and take an assessment to allow fro proper instruction placement. In total, the library is accepting up to 150 adult learners, 30 maximally for each course, and 15 students maximally for the two advanced conversation groups.