Equity & Diversity

Immigrants Who Make Time to Learn English

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 11, 2009 1 min read

Some immigrants really go to heroic efforts to make time to attend English classes, as a video about the day in the life of the Evans Community Adult School in Los Angeles demonstrates. The video, produced by immigrant advocate Will Coley of Aquifer Media, shows interviews of adult students who pass through “classroom 206" in a day. They are enrolled in English classes that have starting times anywhere from 5:45 a.m. in the morning to 9:20 p.m.

I’m not a morning person, so I have particular admiration for the students who attend the first class of the morning, before they start the work day. “I don’t have time in the other hours,” explains one of the men in that class. Another woman mentions that she works from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., so the early class is the best slot for her.

One of the teachers for the adult English-as-a-second-language program says, “These people are dedicated ... They believe in this country and they believe they have a future.”

See Coley’s explanation of the video and the other three that are part of the same series on his blog.

Though this blog is decided to language teaching and learning in grades K-12, I post information now and then about adult ELLs because those folks are the parents of students in elementary and secondary schools and what they do to further their own education can really have an impact on their children.

Not every immigrant with limited English skills is trying to improve them, according to a Government Accountability Office report that was released in July. The report cites one source that found only 44 percent of adults who read English less than well in this country are taking English classes or interested in taking them.

This week, Public Agenda released a report, “A Place to Call Home: What Immigrants Say Now About Life in America.”

The report, based on a telephone survey and focus groups with immigrants, found that the overwhelming majority of immigrants say they are happy living in the United States and they would make the move from their home countries all over again. At the same time, fewer immigrants say they are “extremely happy” in the United States than did nine years ago.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.