English Language Center Promotes Self-Sufficiency, Community Through Education
The English Language Center of Cache Valley helps adult English learners with things like preparing for education or employment and better navigating their communities.
Jessica Francom is the assistant director at the English Language Center of Cache Valley. She said the center began with two women who wanted to help the community.
“In 1998, two women had a vision, Ronda [Kingsford] and Katie [Jensen], they decided to help people in our community to be able to learn to speak English," Francom said. "They didn’t have resources. They had a card table, four chairs and an idea, and some people who wanted to learn — and that’s how it started. And every year more people were interested and wanted to help, and it’s grown to become this great place.”
The English Language Center serves about 500 to 600 students each year.
“The main purpose is to communicate," Francom said. "We want to help the students be able to use the language in a useful way. So, we don’t just learn a list of vocabulary words. We would put it in a way that has a purpose.
For example, you won’t just learn all of the words about the grocery store; you would learn dialogue with sentences and phrases where you can fill in those words and actually use it in a meaningful way, where when they go out to the community, they actually have learned something that is useful for their lives every day."
With seven levels of education and fourteen teachers, the English Language Center teaches students at various levels of English proficiency.
“We start from the very basic, we call it our pre-lit level, where students have not had experience with education in their own countries. They may have never learned to read or write, or even use a pencil sometimes. Our highest level, we call it level five, are often university students, they go to Utah State University, they might be graduate instructors or the spouses of professors, and they will be here to practice more English during the evening while they are at the university during the day. Also, some of our students that are from our community will finish level five and then move on to Bridgerline classes,” Francom said.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the language learning approach and delivery.
“It has completely changed everything, all of our classes have gone online, we don’t have students here in our building, which is very sad, but we use Zoom classes, breakout rooms, and Facebook groups to communicate with our students to maintain a relationship even though we are not necessarily together in person,” Francom said.
English classes and all learning material are given at no cost at the English Language Center.
For more information about the English Language Center, visit elc-cv.org