Thursday, April 1, 2010

Free English and Computer Classes for Non-English Speakers

This post was written by Vicky Hsiang, who is student at the University of Washington Intensive Business English Program. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree in Spanish from her native Taiwan, and is interning with us during Spring Quarter.

Goodwill offers a training center with English and computer classes to help non-English speakers find jobs.

Elba Rosalba, from Burien, has been a housekeeper for most of her life. She has lived in Burien for eight years, but cannot speak English because she is afraid to do so. She has made a decision to learn this language to get a better job. She says, “It is for getting a job and protecting my rights. Now I understand English a little better, but I still need to learn a lot of things.”

The class is one semester long and the center will start a new class in mid-May. These classes are free and include a computer lab which can give students the opportunity to learn how to use Word and Excel to practice their English while learning new computer skills.

According to the instructors, most of the students have difficulties finding a job. The reasons are a lack of English ability and steady employment history. They need to learn how to be on time, to have a good working relationship with coworkers and to be responsible for their behavior.

“We provide training with real work experience. We look at it seriously and ask for our students to be responsible,” Instructor Susan Matta says. Those things are important, so those are the top tasks for the instructor.

The class is usually 90 minutes long and meets twice a week. The teachers take the participation of the students in the class seriously because it is job training. Moreover, it is a way to enter the workforce.

Some who enter this center have barriers; they may not have a home or transportation, and they may have a criminal or substance abuse history.

Elizabeth Acorda, the instructor and expert in the Burien center, says that most of her students are refugees, women who don’t have jobs and those who had a temporary job that ended.

As an international student in Seattle, I think it a great idea to offer a class for those who do not speak English well. The work environment is new to us and there is so much “common sense” that is not common to us! In this center we can learn about the real work experience, study English and learn how to use a computer. It is good news for non-English speakers and for their employers.

If you are interested in this program, you may call the center at 206-860-5791 and make an appointment. They will test you to determine your level in English and Mathematics. For more information please check the website.

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