In the United States, the ability to speak English plays a large role in how well people can perform daily activities. How well a person speaks English may indicate how well he or she communicates with public officials, medical personnel, private service providers, schools, businesses, and others.
People who do not have a strong command of English and who do not have someone in their household to help them on a regular basis are at even more of a disadvantage. They are defined by the U.S. Census department as “linguistically isolated.” These individuals are often of significant socioeconomic disadvantage.
In order to combat this trend, especially if you are in a community that is quite diverse, you may consider incorporation of ESL classes as part of your life skills ministry.
ESL programs are designed to meet the needs of students for whom English is not their dominant language. The goal is to prepare students for success in school and in society through the development of cultural awareness and English language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Your ministry’s ESL programming should offer a variety of content-based classes to help students to develop their academic and social English proficiencies. Multiple levels of instruction should be provided, for children and adults, based on the participants’ current levels of mastery of the English language. You might have a class for beginners, intermediate, and advanced, or even specialized classes such as English for job seekers, or English for students.
As a complement to your ESL classes, you may also consider offering services specifically-targeted to bilingual members of your community, such as tax preparation assistance, legal assistance, citizenship classes, or job search assistance provided by bilingual volunteers.
For more information on developing ESL programming, please visit: