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IRC brings ESL to the living room of refugee homes

Their, there, and they’re? Just one of a thousand examples of English grammar pitfalls. It is hard to learn a new language in the best of circumstances. Add the pressure of a job search, a myriad of health appointments, getting your child off to school, figuring out a new culture, and more, the challenge grows tenfold. On top of these challenges, imagine being a mother with little ones at home and limited access to English classes in the community.

ESL Tutor practice English with refugee as part of new International Rescue Committee program
In-Home ESL Tutor, Christen, practices English with Khadeejah in her home. Photo: Mira Monaco/IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City will now offer ESL programming focused on supporting recently arrived refugees who face a number of barriers limiting their access to English language acquisition, namely refugee women, but also those individuals with a physical disability or other unavoidable limitations. Oftentimes individuals facing these barriers experience isolation which can lead to depression. Our education team will now bring English instruction into the homes of those who need it most.

Through the IRC’s dedicated pool volunteers, a group of in-home ESL tutors are matched with refugees who cannot currently access ESL programs in the community. Volunteers participated in a rigorous training program. Soon, ESL tutors will meet their students and work with them for two hours each week to consistently improve their English in the comfort of their own homes. Tutors will focus on basic literacy skills as well as activities outside of the home to make English relevant and less intimidating, including shopping at a grocery store and practicing vocabulary or riding the bus to practice directions and numbers.

Krysti Nellermoe, IRC education program supervisor, conducts a training for future in-home ESL tutors at the IRC in Salt Lake City.
Krysti Nellermoe, IRC education program supervisor, conducts a training for future in-home ESL tutors at the IRC in Salt Lake City. Photo: Mira Monaco/IRC

Beyond the In-Home Tutor program, the IRC’s new ESL coordinator, Mira Monaco, will lead two weekly English classes available to refugees in the community to assist with English conversation skills.

We are excited to offer ESL instruction, both in-home and in the classroom, to refugees who will benefit most as they strive toward self-sufficiency in our community. If you’re interested in supporting our ESL program, emails us at SaltLakeCity [at] rescue.org (subject: ESL%20Program) and include “ESL Program” in your subject line.