English as a Second Language classes at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Immigrants Find Acceptance Through ESL Program

by Benjamin Deeter, Student Public Relations Writer

English as a Second Language teachers from Cedarville Chantel is an immigrant from the Congo. Leaving her home and family more than 5 years ago, Chantel and her seven children moved to the United States to escape relentless violence. She speaks broken English and works long hours to provide for her children.

Language barriers and cultural adjustments are two hurdles that confront immigrants upon moving to a foreign country. But a program in Beavercreek featuring Cedarville University students is giving people, like Chantel, hope and help.

The English as a second language (ESL) program at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Beavercreek, Ohio, is available to immigrants from the Dayton area who speak little or no English. Limited-English speakers who want to improve their pronunciation and fluency also benefit from the program. Beginning, intermediate and advanced classes are offered to anyone at no cost, including the ESL study workbook.

“These teachers are incredible. They are top-notch, holding master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), and they allow college students to assist and learn from them,” said Hannah Matthews, a sophomore biblical studies major from Muncie, Indiana. “It is amazing because they actually let you teach, while coaching you with feedback and tips.”

— Harleen Dizer

Along with English lessons, instructors and aides help immigrants adjust to American culture. “I’m recognizing that we, as English-speakers, take so much for granted,” said Emily Talento, a junior international relations major from Rockville Centre, New York, who works in the beginners class. “Just in our conversations, we are teaching them more than just the lessons themselves.”

The ESL classes are from 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday night, but Harleen Dizer, the advanced class instructor, said that the social time before, during and after class are what immigrants desire most.

“The people who come to our ESL program have left their homes, their families, except possibly their nuclear family. They come looking for companionship,” said Dizer. “We often find that when our program ends, we have people mingling in our fellowship hall until late. They do not want to leave because they enjoy being together with friendly people.”

Oftentimes, students from countries all around the world immigrate to the United States in hopes of finding a better life, only to be rejected and isolated.

“It is a new place, they do not speak the language and a lot of times, it is very lonely,” said Talento. “At ESL, they are welcomed to a place where we love and listen to them.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,380 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including its Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics program, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.