English Learning

Summer Semester: July 5-August 18 

Register today (269) 348-0883

[email protected]

Read learner success stories

See Summer volunteer opportunities

The KLC offers 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.

We have an open enrollment policy so learners can join anytime! All that’s needed is photo ID, either a passport, driver’s license, Kalamazoo County ID card, or Michigan ID card. 

  • 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. 
  • TOEFL®: Preparation for the TOEFL® 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. Perfect for Level 1 learners. 

Summer esl program

Volunteer opportunities for May – June (hours are flexible)

Registration: Make calls to a list of potential learners from your home or cell phone. Help learners fill out registration forms using Google forms. 

Testing Assistants: Assist during CASAS standardized testing using computers. Training will be provided and testing can be done in person or virtually. 

Technology: Assist learners and their family members (often children with more advanced language skills and familiarity with technology) in using Zoom for classes. 

Volunteer opportunites for July – August (hours are flexible)

Classroom Teacher: Teach a class (levels 1-4) using provided curriculum and materials. 

Classroom Assistant: Support the classroom teacher and assist learners in small groups. Great opportunity for new tutors to work with ESL leaners! 

Substitute Classroom Teachers and Assistants: Fill in for classroom teachers and assistants when there is a need. 

Virtual Classroom Assistant: Assist learners in online classrooms and in breakout sessions.

Discussion Group Leader: Provide discussion ideas to lead group conversations.  Encourage students to participate by breaking into pairs and small groups. 

Small Group Tutors: Work with learners on reading skills in small groups. 

Parent Literacy Together: Teach parenting class on Wednesday mornings using prepared materials.  

Receptionists: Greet students, answer questions, and direct students and families to the appropriate areas.   

ESL Workshop and resources

In February 2022, we hosted an online workshop called “Supporting Refugees Through ESL Instruction,” where we welcomed over 40 tutors, community advocates, and volunteers. The feedback we received was that the workshop was informative, insightful, and helpful. Below are the presentations and supporting resources (pdfs) from the day. 

Watch workshop video (3 hrs)
Password: [email protected]^P8x

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

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. On the form, please include the role you’re interested in. Thank you! 

Success stories

“Working hard to reach her goals…”

Idy Cheng is originally from Hong Kong, China, and moved to Kalamazoo from Pennsylvania, with her two children, over 10 years ago. She has studied with the KLC through our ESL of Southwest Michigan program since June of 2020. Read her full story here. 





“I really enjoy the time with my teachers and classmates…”

Naomi began attending in-person classes through our Community Literacy Center (CLC) at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, and once the pandemic hit, she continued her studies through our Virtual Learning Center. Read full story here.



“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 Level 4 (advanced) classes for students and civics and civilization, through our Virtual Learning Center. Read full story here. 



“English-learning parents face challenges with remote learning during pandemic…”

A love for family, a quest for a better life and a stroke of luck brought Elvis Vetene to West Michigan. Vetene won the visa lottery, also called the Diversity Visa Program. He left the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Kalamazoo to give his family a better life. Vetene spoke several African languages and French. But because of COVID-19 his English level was not improving. Read full story here.

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Kalamazoo Literacy Council is a member organization of ProLiteracy. 

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