r Letter From Eastie: Hmmmm. I thought immigrants refused to learn English. . .
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hmmmm. I thought immigrants refused to learn English. . .

From the Boston Globe:
. . .The city of Boston is scrambling to deliver [English classes]. These classes are a common good. Learning English unlocks doors, enabling immigrants to find jobs, join community volunteer efforts, and help their children thrive in school. And there are simpler pleasures to indulge in, like reading and watching movies. Employers can draw on a larger pool of employees, and the city gets dynamic and productive new residents.

But in 2001 there were an estimated 2,400 names on a waiting list for English as a Second Language classes in Boston. So Mayor Menino and his Office of New Bostonians responded with a four-year program to create more classroom spots, expand small programs, and create a directory of classes. For the last four years, the city's efforts have helped an annual average of 30 percent more people than were served by state-funded classes, according to the Rev. Cheng Imm Tan, director of the Office of New Bostonians.

Now the city is launching phase two, a promising three-year effort to increase private support, add more technology, and run experimental pilot programs.
The most common reason people drop out of English classes is a change in work schedules, according to Tan. So the city is setting up a distance learning pilot program, in which students will meet face-to-face with teachers twice a month and do other work using the Internet. Immigrants increasingly have Internet access, Tan says, because they use it to stay in touch with their native countries.

The city is also organizing a pilot program to teach English in the workplace, starting in Boston's Marine Industrial Park, where a survey found 125 potential students. This experiment would be supported by several small businesses.


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