St. James ESL Program Programs
- ESL Tutoring is open to any adult refugee or low-income immigrant who wants to improve their English. Instruction includes both individual and small group tutoring. Students, tutors, and staff work together to develop an individualized plan of instruction. Tutors complete a 10-hour training in ESL. Approximately 150 refugees and immigrants are enrolled annually.
- Citizenship Preparation and Naturalization Assistance is available to anyone who wants to pursue U.S. citizenship. Clients can enroll in citizenship preparation as well as receive naturalization assistance. Staff provide comprehensive assistance in applying for citizenship. Tutors complete a 10-hour training in ESL and receive on-going support as their student progresses through the naturalization application and interview process. Staff work to ensure the student has everything they need to become a citizen including legal services, health services, and transportation. Approximately 150 refugees and immigrants are enrolled annually.
- DACA Assistance (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) provides eligible clients with individual consultation, including DACA request preparation and an application review by a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative.
- Refugee Elder Empowerment Groups or “social clubs” offer older refugees and immigrants an opportunity to connect with their peers, become more involved in the local community, and learn about emergency preparation, health issues and services, community resources, social services, etc. Approximately 75 refugees and immigrants participate annually.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
When Rosa opened her mail and noticed the utility bill did not include her last payment, she smiled. When she called the customer service number and braved the maze of automated menu options, the customer service representative explained that proof of payment was needed to correct the balance. But Rosa’s good mood continued. When the bank rep told Rosa that a copy of her cancelled check could only be obtained in person, Rosa was not upset.
"I could not do this one year ago," she said. She would have needed a translator to explain why the bill was incorrect and someone to give her advice about how to fix it.
During her first year with St. James ESL, she gained a full ESL learning-level. The following year, in addition to her regular ESL classes, she started studying with a citizenship tutor for her naturalization exam. With help from St. James ESL Rosa became a citizen and was finally able to bring her sons to the U.S. from Nicaragua.
Although she enjoys her job at the University of Washington Hospital as a custodian, Rosa looks forward to retirement. She would like to volunteer, she says, "to help others trying to learn English."