Boston: ESL class finds words of success

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jun 27 12:44:08 UTC 2006

ESL class finds words of success
>>From the world over, they come to learn

By Steve Heyman, Globe Correspondent  |  June 25, 2006

FRAMINGHAM -- As director of a program that has taught thousands of
foreign-born adults the language of the land, Christine Taylor has an
interesting perspective on the national immigration debate. ``We get the
best of the best. We only get the people who have the courage to make this
choice, to come here. We get them usually between the ages of 25 and 35.
We get them at the prime working age. And they invigorate our
communities," she said. This month, 400 immigrants from 32 countries
celebrated completion of Taylor's program, Framingham Adult ESL+, at a
ceremony at the Fuller Middle School.

Since 1984, the free lessons have turned scores of immigrants who do not
speak English into culturally savvy -- and employable -- speakers of the
language . The program offers seven levels of instruction, in addition to
citizenship and family literacy classes. It is subsidized by the state and
charities, and by local businesses that see immigrants with
English-language skills as potential future employees. Students say they
don't take this class for granted. Their attendance is often perfect and
they consider themselves lucky to be enrolled -- 700 of their would-be
classmates are on a waiting list. Some are so grateful to the program
that, after graduating, they come back and volunteer as student-teachers,
Taylor said.

For this year's ceremony, each student was told to bring some food from
home -- and most everyone was happy to oblige. A smiling middle-age man
from Kiev brought a salad of shredded beets and mayonnaise. A young
Brazilian woman brought feijo tropeiro, an amalgam of kidney beans,
hard-boiled eggs, sausage, and seasoned cassava flour. In the front row
was Taylor, who founded the program. In the beginning, she started by
teaching one ESL class to area immigrants. By 1989, there were five
classes. Five years later, there were 10.

``When we hit 12 classes, I remember saying, `No one needs more than 10
classes!' " said Taylor, 48, who was born and raised in Framingham. But to
meet even half the demand, the program still needed to expand.  Today
there are 35 classes, 30 teachers, and 630 students.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list