Afghan mother holding a child in front of a computer

TLC Working with Afghan Refugees in Middle TN

TLC Partner Catholic Charities, Diocese of Nashville, has welcomed 332 Afghan refugees to Middle Tennessee. The Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE), another TLC partner, has settled over 200 Afghan refugees and is expecting up to 100 more. These refugees were displaced by the largest evacuation in 50 years of people from their home country to the U.S.

In the first quarter of 2021, TLC has tested 289 of these refugees to ascertain their English proficiency and either placed them in a TLC English as a Second Language (ESL) class at the appropriate level or referred them to other agencies for assistance. TLC will be testing and referring all the adult refugees in the Nashville area. So far, 108 Afghans have attended a TLC ESL class with more expected to enroll over the coming months.

In addition, TLC was able to offer an Afghan interpreter a scholarship to attend our legal interpreter training, and we hope to be able to offer additional scholarships in the future.

 

 

Woman and man posing in front of 880 Ranchera painted on the wall

Cara to Cara Radio Program Features TLC

Director of World Languages Brian Barnett was recently a guest of Cara to Cara radio program sponsored by the Hispanic Family Foundation (HFF).  For the Spring 2022 World Languages term, we are offering an in-person beginning Spanish class at HFF. Registration for Spring Term starts March 7 and classes begin the week of April 18.  TLC also offers English classes at HFF.

Watch the interview.

Woman at flip chart under pop up tent teaching several seated students

TLC Teaches Demos at Celebrate Nashville

TLC participated in the annual Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival in Nashville. The event drew around 40,000 people from the Middle Tennessee area, and TLC held several short language class demos throughout the day as well as talking to people interested in classes and language services.

People standing under pop up tent and talking

ESL to Go Logo

ESL to Go Receives $93,000 Grant

TLC’s ESL to Go program has received a $93,000 grant from the Tennessee Office for Refugees through Catholic Charities. ESL to Go offers free English as a Second Language classes to approved asylees, refugees, and people with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) that have been in the U.S. five years or less.

Classes are offered online, and ESL to Go also has a classroom on wheels that can travel to the apartment complexes where refugees live, eliminating the need for transportation to and from class. This grant will cover the cost for classes for around 170 students.

Screen grab showing Zoom call

First Online TESL Class Graduates

Prior to the pandemic, the Tennessee Language Center’s Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) teacher certification course offered 150 hours of instruction, far beyond the standard 100 hours, and included a 30-hour, in-person teaching practicum. Graduates who completed the program had an advantage obtaining jobs in the field because of this teaching experience. Because of the in-person practicum, the certification training had always been limited to students in the Middle Tennessee area.

This year, TLC made the decision to pilot a completely virtual TESL certification program. On Sept. 11, the first cohort of graduates from the all online TESL certification program graduated. This class is now available to anyone in Tennessee that wishes to get certified to teach English as a Second Language.

Excited woman doing a fist pump

Students Give TLC Excellent Marks in Satisfaction Survey

TLC is pleased to report that our students from our spring term ranked our language classes 4.91/5.00 in our end of term satisfaction survey. An amazing 93% ranked us a 5.00.

“I like the small size of the class; the balance of listening, speaking, and writing practice; and the teacher’s style and personality,” wrote one student.

“This class is always a highlight for me each week. It’s been a lot of fun spending time with other people at my language level so that we can interact with one another,” writes another student.

We are thrilled that we are meeting your language learning needs and appreciate everyone who submitted feedback. Thank you!

graphic of graduation cap

Medical Interpreters Graduate June 3

TLC, in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Medical Center Interpreter Services graduated eight students from the 80-hour, 15-week program on Thursday, June 3. Languages represented include Spanish, Russian, and Arabic, and participants connected from across the state and beyond.

ESL to Go Mobile Classroom Vehicle

ESL to Go receives $10,000 grant from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

ESL to Go, a grant-funded program that is part of the Tennessee Language Center (TLC), has been able to provide free English classes to over 1,700 students in the Nashville area with the help of generous funders including the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. ESL to Go was recently awarded another year of funding from Dollar General.

ESL to Go was founded in hopes of helping refugees overcome barriers to attending classes, with transportation being at the top of the list. ESL to Go uses a “classroom on wheels” in the form of a Ford F-650 truck equipped to be a fully functioning classroom to take English classes to the areas where refugees live. ESL to Go also works closely with local refugee resettlement agencies, community organizations, apartment complexes, and churches who allow ESL to Go to use free classroom space, so TLC-trained teachers are able to meet with refugee students close to their homes.

Recently, ESL to Go has expanded class offerings to include virtual classes in order to continue helping students access classes during the time of social distancing.

Only together can we make a difference.

Only Together Conference 2019

Last month, Woodmont Hills Church hosted the Only Together Conference aimed at connecting Nashville’s refugee service groups to each other. It presented a great opportunity to learn more about the refugees who make Nashville their home and the services available to them, to network with other agencies and to share about TLC’s programs. Erin Keafer, Assistant Director of English Programs at TLC, highlighted our ESL to Go program, which takes the classroom to refugee communities and helps to eliminate the transportation barrier. Since many of the volunteers in attendance teach informal English to the refugees who they mentor, we wanted to remind them what it’s like to sit on the other side of the desk.

Heather Seybold teaching a German lesson to the audience.

When we talk about teaching our new neighbors English, it’s good to be reminded of how humbling the process of learning a new language as an adult can be. We thought it might be better to show rather than to tell, which also gave us an opportunity to talk about our Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and World Language courses. I presented a German lesson using NO English! “What?!!”, you say, “How is that possible??” Well, it’s the difference between explaining the grammar in English or teaching the target language phrases in context. Your brain is MUCH more engaged when it has to work not only to remember the phrase but to understand its meaning based on context. This is what sets our communicative approach apart from traditional teaching methods.

Many of our ESL students don’t share the same primary language in the classroom, so we must teach them in English using different methods that explain the meaning of the words rather than just presenting the vocabulary in the language they are most comfortable speaking. If you have ever experienced teaching or learning a new language using the communicative method, it sounds much easier to do than it is—both as a student and a teacher. The TESL program at TLC helps set teachers up for success using these effective teaching methods.

So let this serve as an invitation. Come learn a language with us or learn how to teach a language — we’d love to help! Only together can we make a difference.

Learn more today by visiting www.tlc.tennessee.edu or calling us at 615-741-7579.

Heather Seybold

Assistant Director, Foreign Languages

Contact

Phone: 615-741-7579 x119

Email: heather.seybold@tennessee.edu

More Than Just Night Classes – How TLC Helps Homeschool Families

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Connie Barrow, a nurse practitioner from White House who homeschools her two kids, Wesley (age 15) and Shannon (age 13). They have been attending our classes since January and just recently completed their third term. She sits patiently in our lobby twice a week for two hours while Wesley and Shannon take their evening world language classes and has become a dear friend of ours.

One of the reasons Connie sought us out was because of her son’s interest in learning Russian. Private video lessons with an instructor based in the Ukraine sparked an interest in attending an in-person class. With a quick search on the internet, Connie found TLC.

The combination of the private tutoring and attending our in-person classes year round is how her kids achieve the required amount of homeschool credit every year. Although year round classes are a big commitment, Connie appreciates the continuity of the language learning and says it quickly became about more than just achieving the school credit – both kids are very committed to and excited about learning their prospective languages.

Connie says that one of the perks of studying here is that her kids can be around adult learners who take their language studies seriously. Her kids don’t have to worry about other students in class goofing off or distracting them from learning.

She also really appreciates the breadth of world language options when compared to regular school systems who typically only offer a few language options. As a mother, she thought it was important that her kids have the option to choose their own language interests from a large variety of options. Having lots of choices helps them think outside the box and enjoy being different. She is very proud that her kids authentically picked their own languages to study and believes it shows them that learning to pursue personal goals and dreams is valuable. “Sometimes teenagers feel the need to conform, but they need to know that it’s okay not to conform. I definitely recommend TLC to homeschool parents. Even if it’s not for credit, it encourages independence even within their own family and gives them something that makes them unique.”

Pictured are Wesley and Shannon Barrow after class.

I was also very happy to hear that both kids absolutely love their teachers. Wesley’s Russian teacher, Tatiana Logsdon, is a native of Russia. Wesley enjoys the stories she shares from her homeland, the culture, and learning what it is really like to live there. Shannon enjoys French because it is different from what her big brother is studying, but also because her French teacher, Jennifer Pitts, is consistent and understands what it is like to be in her student’s shoes with learning a language from scratch. Also, Shannon’s aunt lives in Quebec and speaks French, so it has been exciting for her to have that connection to her extended family members in Canada.

Connie has picked up some world language skills from her kids, too! She can say some basic sentences in Russian and French, thanks to her well-studied kids. The Barrow family recently attended the 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee event in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, where they got to meet and spend time with hundreds of different families from different countries and cultural backgrounds. The Barrow family believes that seeking out and celebrating diversity is important for their kids’ character development. “It is important to know there is a way to show kindness even if you can’t understand what the other person is saying. It is exciting to be in a multi-cultural setting. They are people from other places, but they are just like you and me. There is so much value in being bilingual.”

She also wanted to point out that it was a fairly easy process of registering her kids and getting all her questions answered. “I really like TLC’s gentle approach to helping us, whether on the phone or in person, it was important to me to ask questions. I absolutely recommend TLC to everyone.”

Our current class offerings are Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. If you are interested in getting more information or registering for classes, please visit our website at http://tlc.tennessee.edu or give us a call at 615-741-7579.