English language Learning

Westwood United Methodist Church
538 W. Nichols Rd.
Kalamazoo, 49006

July 15-August 23
Register today!

Contact Lupita (269) 382-0490 ext. 224 or gflores@kalamazooliteracy.org

Download the Summer schedule

See volunteer opportunities

Read learner success stories

We offer free in-person and online classes designed for English language learners to reach their individual goals. Our wonderful team of trained volunteers tutor these motivated learners using special techniques to help them grasp language skills for conversational/social interactions, academic excellence, and workforce readiness. Our ESL program strengthens reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, in addition to spelling and comprehension.

Learners are welcome to enroll anytime! All that’s needed is photo ID – a passport, driver’s license, Kalamazoo County ID, or Michigan ID. 

  • English as a Second Language: Pre-literacy, low and high beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes with lessons designed to improve cultural understanding as well as English literacy skills. 
  • Job Skills: Helps learners obtain better reading and writing scores, write cover letters and resumes, and better understand language for the workplace.
  • Burlington English Lab: Uses the computer-based Burlington English curriculum which combines academic and workforce readiness skills to actively engage and prepare learners for post secondary education and job training. 
  • TOEFLÂŽ: Preparation for the TOEFLÂŽ exam for higher education and academic goal-oriented learners. 
  • Citizenship: English learning and civics classes to prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Test. 
  • Discussion Group: Practice English build confidence by talking about fun topics and current events. 
  • Parent Literacy: Weekly classes where adults will have fun practicing English while learning about parenting. 
  • Open Tutoring: Open session to work with ESL tutors. Fridays, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  WE

summer ESL program

Learn English for free! Join our Summer session to build your language skills while learning about better health. Classes start July 15. Contact Lupita to enroll today: (269) 382-0490 ext. 224 or gflores@kalamazooliteracy.org. 

volunteers needed!

Looking to become more involved with ESL programs? We are always in need of volunteers to work in the positions listed below. 

Discussion Group Leader: 
Engage with a lively group of learners who are excited to practice their conversational English. Curriculum and training are provided. 

Basic Computer Skills Instructor (Mondays, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.) Help learners get comfortable with using a computer for email, Google, and Microsoft Word and Excel. Curriculum and training are provided. 

CASAS team (flexible – need day and nighttime volunteers in 3 hour blocks)
This volunteer will supervise students as they take their online standardized English evaluation. This evaluation is important because it tells us what level our students are at and helps us to determine appropriate curriculum for them. This is a good opportunity for a volunteer who is comfortable with computers and online portals to use their skills to help our students. Volunteer will go through online training and receive a certificate allowing them to be a proctor. Volunteers are needed for daytime and evening shifts.

Low Intermediate Class Instructor (1-2 evenings per week)
Lead class using provided Step Forward Curriculum. Take attendance and forward to the Navigator. Attend monthly meetings. 

High Intermediate Class Instructor (1-2 evenings per week)
Lead class using provided Step Forward Curriculum. Take attendance and forward to the Navigator. Attend monthly meetings. 

Level 1A Classroom Assistants  (Tuesday and Thursday evenings)
This volunteer will assist the classroom teacher with English as a Second Language students in a virtual classroom. Work individually or in small groups with students in breakout rooms within a level 1 ESL classroom. Teacher will assign tasks to do with students. This is a good opportunity to gain experience working with ESL students. We are seeking volunteer assistants for 11:00 am and 6:30 pm class Tuesday and Thursday.

ESL Literacy Tutors 
This volunteer will work individually with an ESL level 1 student who is working on gaining literacy skills. Resources will be provided to assist with this population, which includes a lot of our refugees. Those who speak another language or have an interest in working with our refugee population are encouraged to consider this opportunity.

El Concilio Tutor (Monday and Wednesday)
This volunteer will lead a group of Spanish speaking students in ESL activities. Activities will be in English, but this volunteer will use Spanish language to explain vocabulary and grammar. This volunteer will coordinate with an existing volunteer to divide Monday and Wednesday evening classes.

If you are interested, please click the button below to register for tutor training. In the comments field, please indicate the role you’re interested in. Thank you! 

ESL forum and resources

We host monthly ESL forums where tutors, instructors, and partners are invited to learn about effective strategies for teaching adult ESL learners and to share their experiences. Meetings are held virtually on the fourth Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Contact Kito at (269) 382-0490 ext. 4786 to sign up and receive the meeting link. 

Below are presentations and handouts from the “Supporting Refugees Through ESL Instruction” workshop. The volunteers and community advocates who attended said the workshop was informative, insightful, and helpful.  We hope you find value in these resources.

Building Relationships – Jen Kruger 
SIOP Lesson Planning – Dylan Warner
SIOP Handout Guidelines
SIOP Observation Form
SIOP Lesson Plan Templates
Pre-literate/Non-literate ESL Resources – Vicki Konzen
1A and 1B Resources
Teaching ESL Literacy Readers
Pronunciation – Ila M. Baker

Success stories

“It’s like discovering something new every day”
Mayerling Herrera moved from her native country of Venezuela to Portage, MI, in August of 2016. Immediately, Mayerling looked for a place to learn English, and she found the KLC’s ESL of Southwest Michigan program in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Mayerling has been a dedicated student, coming to class as much as possible. She is always positive and friendly with her teacher and fellow classmates, and her homework is completed. Mayerling tries to help others in the class when she can, and enjoys practicing English with her classmates.  Now, after four years of studying English, Mayerling feels that she understands English so much more, and she can speak quite a bit now.  “It’s like discovering something new every day,” she said.  Mayerling’s reading score on CASAS tests have improved at least three educational levels. 

Mayerling now has her driver’s license, and she has the confidence to shop and even travel alone, and has become more involved in the community. Mayerling hopes to be able to volunteer in an organization soon to “be useful” to her new country. Mayerling has encouraged other immigrants whom she meets to register and attend the KLC’s ESL classes because, as she said, the classes are helping her “integrate into this beautiful country.” Speaking in her own English words, Mayerling appreciates that she is learning English not only through grammar, but also through the content of life skills and American culture. Mayerling expressed her admiration for the dedication and caring that the ESL teachers and volunteers demonstrate to their students, and she is thankful for the opportunity to study English with the KLC’s ESL of SWMI program. Mayerling was nominated for the Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence in Fall 2021. 

“Thank you for everything”  
Brigitte Kokote arrived in the U.S. mid July 2021 and started studying with ESL of SWMI in August. She is newly married and has a young son. Brigitte is a bright, diligent, and steadfast student. Within three months, she has quickly reached a high level of conversational English. Brigitte took the initiative to reach out to her tutor to acquire the prior lessons she had missed, studied the material, and continued to ask thoughtful questions. She is one of the most active and inquisitive students in her class. Brigitte has a good ear for language and is not afraid of voicing her opinions. Since attending classes, she has become a sort of leader for the French speaking students, assisting them with their comprehension and pronunciation. Although she has a B.A. in finance and business management, Brigitte plans to use KLC classes to help her attain her goal of becoming a nurse. As she progresses through her learning journey and becomes accustomed to life in the U.S, her teacher is confident that her diligence and bright disposition will be great tools to help her along the way. Brigitte was nominated for the Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence in Fall 2021.

Working hard to reach his goals
Elvis Vetene is a Level 3 learner from the Congo. He is married and has several children including one with special needs. Some of his kids are still in his home country waiting to join the family in the U.S. Elvis is a highly motivated learner and has participated in virtual learning with us to strengthen his English and to help his children with online school during the pandemic. He has made significant improvements in the CASAS assessment for reading and listening. Elvis previously worked third shift in a factory where he and his wife took alternating shifts in order to manage childcare, English classes, and family responsibilities. Now, due to his improved English skills, he has a new job at Pfizer and plans to apply for U.S. citizenship. Elvis was nominated for the Mard Little Award for Adult Learner Excellence in Fall 2021.

An international and literacy-centered life

Jay has truly lived an international and literacy-centered life. He first taught English with International Voluntary Services, a predecessor to the Peace Corps when he was in Vietnam.
He currently teaches online Level 4 (advanced) and U.S. History classes. Read his full story here. 

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy. 

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