“Houston is the most diverse, rapidly growing major US metropolitan area, and immigration has contributed greatly to its growth and diversity. In 2013 the Houston metro area was home to 6.3 million people, of whom 1.4 million were foreign born – an increase of nearly 60 percent from 2000, which is almost twice the national growth rate.” – Migration Policy Institute Report, March 2015
Houston has one of the largest immigrant populations with about 22% of Houston residents born in another country. In an effort to serve the needs of our immigrant community, Emerson Justice Advocates (EJA) offers English as a Second Language classes (ESL). The intent of EJA is not only to offer classes in English, a key component of upward mobility in the United States, but also to identify other needs within the immigrant community. In the process we can share our care and compassion to members of the larger Houston community and build personal relationships with people. As Global Citizens, it is our mission to make the world a better place starting in our community.
As our ESL program continues to grow, we encourage students to identify other needs for which we can provide resources and educational opportunities to assist them in bettering their lives and the lives of their children. Our classes are being offered free of charge to all who come to our doors for help.
2017 Program Update
The 2017 semester started off with a record-breaking student attendance of 153 students and approximately 45 children who were cared for by our paid child care workers. Emerson’s ESL classes are the only classes in the Houston area that we know of that provide childcare for their students. Providing childcare allows our students with young children to attend classes. Our marketing efforts included flyer distribution in various communities including schools, radio ads on a Spanish radio station, and some social media.
As we enter our 4th year, our program has progressed from one Saturday afternoon class and one level the first semester to four different levels three days a week. We have 19 dedicated volunteer instructors and numerous assistants to help teachers in the classrooms or with placement testing during registration.
The Unitarian Universalist Funding Program (http://www.uua. org/giving/funding) awarded Emerson’s English Classes Project a grant to assist with the 2017 school year. Funding was also received from Emerson’s “Share the Plate” collections, “Faithify” online contributions, a major fundraising event (Chili Cook-Off), and from several generous individual donors.
Emerson’s English Classes Project is fueled by volunteers, from the Emerson congregation as well as the larger community. Consider offering your time and talents in one or more of the following roles.
For those with limited time, the following opportunities are available:
Registration data entry – basic computer skills and a few minutes of database training are the only requirements.
Registration greeters – start with a welcoming smile and a little training in the registration process; skill in a second language is a bonus.
Placement testing – after an hour of training in early September, volunteers administer oral and written test during registration on Saturday, September 9th.
If you have more availability, consider these opportunities:
Session Coordinators – arrive half an hour before the start of class to open the church, set out attendance materials and welcome students.
Classroom Assistants – work alongside experienced ESL instructors in the classroom, join in conversational exercises, collect resources and materials for classroom use.
ESL Instructors – experienced language instructors are always needed to teach two to three hour classes at basic (no English) to more advanced (English immersion) levels. Interested in substitute teaching? You are also welcome!
Childcare Volunteers – assist the paid, certified childcare staff with infant care, play and enrichment activities.
Office Staff – ESL’s tiny office is the resource hub. Help is needed with copying, filing and keeping things organized.
If you are an experienced instructor interested in volunteering, please contact Clara Kosloff at firstname.lastname@example.org . For all other volunteer inquiries, please contact Carol Trout at email@example.com.
Registration for our Fall Classes will be Saturday, September 9th, 2017. Our first class will be Saturday, September16th. Monday through Thursday classes will begin on September 18th.
New students interested in learning more about Emerson’s FREE ESL Program should call 713/782-0825.