TLC held graduation for its Spring 2022 Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) students on Saturday, May 14. Five students completed the certification preparation course, and one has begun teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for TLC.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Assistant Director, Foreign Languages
Phone: 615-741-7579 x119
TN Language Center
The Tennessee Language Center (formerly TFLI), an agency of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service established in 1986, is dedicated to responsive service of the public sector, the business community and private citizens in realizing their intercultural communication goals.