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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Free adult ESL classes are available through various parts of the city thanks to a Rutgers University course and a recently formed community-based project that has been making great strides in building relationships within the New Brunswick community.
The classes themselves are free for any adult who wishes to practice their English as a Second Language. They are available at various locations including the New Brunswick Free Public Library, Youth Empowerment Services, and New Labor.
Each ESL Conversation group will continue for 8 or 9 weeks. For more information on how to register for the free ESL classes, people can email [email protected]
Rutgers students are now able to sign up for a course that enables them to receive credit as they lead ESL instruction in New Brunswick. The class will meet once a week every Tuesday night from 6:10 until 9pm.
Interested Rutgers students can contact [email protected] for more information on how to register for the course.
“Everyone is excited to come to the ESL classes,” says Youth Empowerment Services Director Barry Smith. “The program is designed with a plan, and the English-learners get specialized help with specific vowel sounds and consonant sounds.”
“I love the work they do,” Smith told New Brunswick Today. "It's so good for the participants' self-esteem, to be able to communicate in another language better and better each week."
The course is made available through a partnership with various community centers in the city and The Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research at Rutgers University, formerly known as Rutgers Students Advancing Literacy Skills in Adults (SALSA).
“My job is to tell the students to get off that E bus!” jokes Dr. Amy Michael, who co-founded the program with the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and The Collaborative.
“Our goal is to provide opportunities for English conversation practice as we also learn from community members who participate in our Conversation Cafés. We think about service-learning as a mutual learning experience,” explains Program Coordinator Jessica Hunsdon.
Rutgers Professor Jessica Curtis leads the 3-credit university course, guiding students in theory and in practice during the semester.
She assigns readings to the students about a teaching practice known as “critical pedagogy.” Students explore ideas of minimizing the power play that may come in different educational settings. Professor Curtis discusses with her students the positive effects of “reciprocal learning” with her students.
Curtis explains that the ESL instruction is “dialogic between student and teacher,” and that it is a process “in which we are all learners at some point.”
Kavita Pandey, Reference Librarian at New Brunswick Free Public Library says the Conversation Café is “filled with lot of talking and laughing where community members practice their conversational skills in an informal setting.”
“It is exciting to be a part of culturally and linguistically diverse community. We had an average attendance of 15 -20 community members every week.”