News / USA

Mobile Classroom Brings English Lessons to Immigrants

Mobile Classrooms Bring English Lessons to Immigrantsi
X
July 31, 2013 2:10 PM
Immigrants and refugees arriving in the United States often find it hard to adjust to the nation’s mobile lifestyle. Only the largest American cities have adequate public transportation. In many communities, a car is a necessity to get to school, shopping, and work. To pass a driver’s test, immigrants may need to speak and understand English. But reaching an English class in a distant part of town may require a car and a license to drive it. Mike Osborne reports on a mobile solution to the problem.
Mike Osborne
On a recent Saturday morning in Nashville, Tennessee, students gathered at the Foreign Language Institute for English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instruction.

The students are fortunate. Their English language skills are already quite advanced. Some have a driver’s license and car, others have a friend or family member who can drive them to class.

That’s fortunate because the building where the Institute is located is in a typical American business park; it isn’t designed for pedestrians and there are no sidewalks.

Like many American cities, Nashville is a car town. It was built to accommodate drivers and their vehicles, not foot traffic or bicycles. That makes it difficult for the more than 1,200 refugees settled in Nashville each year, many of whom can’t drive and speak little or no English.

Many refugees who resettle in Nashville find lodging in a large apartment complex 20 kilometers from the institute’s classrooms, on the opposite side of town.

ESL students during a lesson inside their mobile classroom in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mike Osborne for VOA)ESL students during a lesson inside their mobile classroom in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mike Osborne for VOA)

So the Foreign Language Institute decided that if its ESL students couldn’t get to the classroom, they would bring the ESL classroom to the students.

With the help of state and federal agencies, as well as interested local donors, the institute purchased a delivery van and converted the cargo area into a classroom. They call it “ESL-to-GO.” It travels the city, visiting communities where immigrants and refugees tend to congregate.

“A lot of the time they just couldn’t get to the classes," said Ashley Ekers, ESL-to-GO's curriculum coordinator. "It was too far for them to walk. They were unfamiliar with the bus system. It was just a barrier that a lot of them couldn’t get over.”

The institute tried other solutions. They initially held classes in a rented apartment. They also tried meeting in students’ homes. Both proved less than ideal.

“It’s very contingent on whether there’s space in the apartment for us," Ekers said. "So we thought, 'We want something that we can control and just bring to the refugees.' Our own space. We don’t have to rely on anyone else.”

Lulu Nhkum, a refugee from Burma, was among those who encouraged the institute to bring ESL classes directly to the community.

“They want to go to the ESL class but, especially in the winter, they are also working," she said. "For our people, they don’t need to travel. The truck is really helpful to our community.”

ESL-to-GO, which hit the road in May, has a waiting list. Students in their 70s have even signed up for the classes.

“I would be very hesitant probably at that age to attempt to learn a language, but they just believe that they can and they want the skills," Ekers said. "They’re very eager to learn.”

Ekers says the refugees she’s worked with are diligent students. They want to be independent and self-sufficient and they see learning English as the key to their success.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid