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El Centro offering Citizenship, ESL Classes on Saturdays, Starting March 7

By La Prensa Staff


El Centro de Servicios Sociales in Lorain, Ohio is encouraging individuals and families to better themselves on Saturdays at the community center, by attending citizenship and English as a second language (ESL) classes. The next set begin March 7, 2020 at El Centro.


“There’s not that many classes in Northeast Ohio in regards to preparing people for citizenship or the process that people go through to get their citizenship, especially classes that are affordable and tailored to our community,” said El Centro executive director Victor Leandry. “We have seen how much impact those classes have had on helping people pass their citizenship test. Those classes are very important.”


But Leandry points out the same people who take the citizenship class also have a need to improve their English-speaking skills. So, the classes are held back-to-back each Saturday, with the citizenship course at 10 a.m., followed by the ESL class at noon. Each runs two hours long.


“You don’t have to participate in both. You can choose one or the other one,” he said. “But they are put together to complement each other.”


Lorain Community College conducts other ESL classes during the week, but Leandry stated the feedback from people his agency serves is that those courses “are too advanced” for people who may need “English 101.” So, the Saturday courses are conducted by Oberlin College students who must rack up some service-learning hours as part of their major.


“They come very organized, very prepared for those classes,” said Leandry. “They’re fantastic. I’m here some Saturdays and sit down and see them ready to teach. Their English classes are more one-on-one and very conversational, really helping people to get the basics, at least.”


The need comes from the migrant farmworker community who arrive each summer and the families who decide to stay. Lorain County also has seen a huge influx of Hurricane María refugees who fled to northern Ohio from their native Puerto Rico and decided to settle there. While there are no specific numbers of Spanish-speaking families, Leandry stated “we know the need is there.”


“Maybe because it’s a long, long Saturday, people don’t stay for the English classes,” he said. “We were asked by the community to put on the English classes. We put it on a Saturday after the immigration classes, thinking if people are already going to be here for the immigration class, might as well have them stay for the English class. I don’t want to stop that service. We want to open it up to anyone who may need it.”


The classes involve group activities and one-on-one tutoring where needed. Leandry pointed out college students also give volunteer service hours providing child care, to make it more convenient for parents to attend courses. There is no pre-registration required; classes are held on a drop-in basis.



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Revised: 02/25/20 12:03:12 -0800.




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