Most people would agree that learning a new language is an invaluable skillset. At Language Testing International (LTI), we know that learning a new language may be done at a leisurely pace for personal pleasure or career advancement, however, there are many individuals who must learn a new language to survive when they migrate to the U.S. In those instances, learning a new language is not a luxury but rather a necessity, and the challenge of learning a new language is usually not the only obstacle English language learners are facing or struggling to overcome.
On a recent episode of LTI’s “Language Is Your Superpower” podcast, special guest Casie Arellano discussed the importance of understanding the needs of and providing the resources to meet the needs of the ESOL student population in her community.
Casie Arellano has been working in education since 2009 and began working with Adult Education programs in August 2017. She currently oversees all English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs at Brevard Adult and Community Education in Brevard County, Florida, where for the past several years she has been working on building outreach centers to help adult learners develop a pathway to achieving their dreams using language as a stepping-stone. Their ESOL program is one of the most successful programs they implement, assisting students who are integrating into life and the culture of the United States. Courses cover improving language skills, learning about U.S. culture, and preparing to become a U.S. citizen.
In describing the constituents of her Florida community, Casie explained that “a lot of the [ESOL] population that comes to us, they already have education from their countries, and they are looking to start their lives here in Florida. We help them to get into the workforce.” Casie explained that one of the ways they are able to accomplish this is through a “partnership with CareerSource Brevard, who helps these students of ours get into the workforce. So, we’ll teach [the students] English and then we offer the classes at their centers, and they work with a career counselor and the career counselor will help put them into jobs.”
Casie also mentioned that they realized the benefits of online learning through the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have an online program that is phenomenal in helping them with the language,” she said. The program offers career-specific terminology, so students are learning the English language in a way that is prioritized for their intended job placement. Casie went on to explain that another “great thing about all of the e-learning is that a lot of our English as a Second Language population, they have a lot of different barriers, such as childcare or they don’t have a ride to classes, so it’s great that we can do online classes that help them in helping themselves.”
Casie’s work to intentionally integrate language learning with job placement resources is exactly what helps the new arrivals in their community experience hope. She explained how the partnership with CareerSource Brevard “would bring in career counselors and these career counselors would help our students write resumes. And then we also have a career coach here and she would work with the students once a week and they’d go and use something called Employ Florida” to look at job postings and submit resumes to open jobs. Among many other supporting services for ESOL students who are undocumented or on visas, the program also helps with visas and U.S. naturalization applications.
In addition, many of the student tuition and teacher salaries are covered through the partnership with CareerSource Brevard as well as other grant opportunities. By providing these supporting services and interventions as part of their journey to learn English, many immigrants are able to assimilate to U.S. culture and contribute to their communities and to the economy much faster than they would have if their language learning was conducted without these supporting resources.
To learn more about the program at Brevard, tune into our podcast.