Our Community ESL Program improves the educational and career opportunities of non-native speakers by providing English reading, writing, and speaking instruction, helping students successfully integrate into southern Delaware communities.
WHO WE SERVE:
We support adult learners and their families, who in turn can share their expertise and talents with the neighborhoods and businesses where they live and work.
HOW WE HELP:
We create safe and supportive learning environments, tailor curricula to different skill levels, and support adult learners through all stages of their English language journeys. For parents attending classes, we offer an onsite child educational program.
In 2003, the LCOS congregation became aware of the need for an ESL program to serve the residents of Eastern Sussex County. Throughout the next year, volunteers studied other successful ESL programs, secured necessary funding, and built enthusiasm for this social outreach ministry within the congregation. English classes began in January 2004 at the church and have been running continuously ever since.
After starting with two teachers, a handful of church volunteers and 45 students, the program has spilled out into the community, expanding to include over 40 volunteers from across the Sussex County area working with an average of 150 students a year in four different locations—Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Milford Public Library, Beebe Hospital/Rollins School of Nursing, and online in partnership with the Lewes Public Library. Community ESL now includes a half-time Program Director, part-time Program Coordinator and Childcare Staff that work to support the program. Students represent over 20 countries. About 55 percent of the students use Spanish as their first language, followed closely by students for whom Russian or Ukrainian is their first language. Learning levels continue to include beginner to advanced, and the program works with Delaware Technical and Community College to prepare students for further educational opportunities. Prior to starting classes, prospective students register online and complete a screening test to determine best learning level placement.
The program is hosted by the Lutheran Church of Our Savior and funded by grants from a number of local and regional organizations, currently including the Arsht-Cannon, Crestea, Shultze Family, Freeman Faces and Harry K Foundations, 100 Women Who Care, St. Edmonds Catholic Church, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, SoDel Cares, Leftys Alley and Eats and Mariachi Restaurant, as well as with donations from individuals and businesses.