The Learn English for Living Foundation is adding U.S. citizenship exam preparation classes to its roster. The organization currently offers classes in Midland Valley, North Augusta and Aiken.
The new classes will begin at Our Lady of the Valley Parish, 2429 Augusta Road, Gloverville, on Jan. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. Classes will run through May.
Janey Rule of Augusta established the foundation about 11 years ago and, over time, has provided a wide range of English as a Second Language programs for adults and children. She is introducing the new program to assist up to 15 immigrants who need more extensive English lessons.
To qualify for citizenship, people must prepare for and successfully pass a civics test and English proficiency demonstrations of reading, writing and speaking English. A newcomer to the U.S. would need five years to qualify as a citizen, while an immigrant who is married to an American citizen could gain citizenship in three years.
“People who don’t know English need to start ESL classes now,” Rule said. “It can take one to five years to learn to speak, read and write English. They will have to memorize 100 questions about America for the exam and answer correctly six of (any) 10 questions asked to them.”
If people already have some experience with English, they may need only six to nine months to get to a level to complete the citizenship requirements.
Rule has always felt compassion for people who live in America but don’t speak English. Years ago, she moved to Korea for a year.
“I couldn’t speak or write the language,” Rule said in a 2010 interview. “That’s when I really got it.”
Rule has already introduced a program for young children between the ages of 3 and 5 who don’t speak English and are approaching kindergarten age. At the Midland Valley Church of the Nazarene in Clearwater, these young children can attend a class through Aiken County-based KinderKids.
The foundation already works with older children on tutoring and homework assistance. The goal is to provide the youngest children with more language skills by the time they begin kindergarten at Clearwater Elementary School. That school has a high population of Hispanic students, and principal Trey Laube was delighted to hear about Rule’s plans.
“About 27 percent of the students at Clearwater are Hispanic,” he said. “They come in at 4K and 5K, and that language barrier is a big issue.”
For Spanish-speaking students, they may not get it through the first semester or longer. Once they start gaining the skills, their proficiency begins to accelerate, Laube said.
“It’s another issue that we get kids to learn English, but for the parents, the only language they speak is Spanish,” said Laube. “I’m always interested in improving our communications. Our Hispanic population continues to grow each year.”
The foundation offers adult classes at the Nazarene Church, Our Lady of the Valley, Our Lady of Peace in North Augusta and Goodwill Job Connections in Aiken.
Learn English for Living Foundation is a nonprofit that utilizes volunteers to provide ESL training. Classes are free for adults who want to learn English and for children in school who need tutoring. For more information, call (706) 284-7555, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit learnenglishforliving.com.