Tips for Green-Card Winners and other Immigrants

Learning English

There are many places where you can learn how to speak, read, and write in English. Many children and adults enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. These classes help people who do not know English to learn the language. These classes are also called English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) or English Literacy classes.

Children who do not know English will learn it in school. America's public schools provide help and instruction for all students who need to learn English. Students who need extra help are often called Limited English Proficient (LEP) students.

Students just beginning to learn English may take an ESL class in place of a regular English class. Students with more English language skills may be placed in a regular classroom and given extra help. Some schools also offer after-school programs and tutoring to help students learn English. Your child's school will tell you what kind of help they give students who need to learn English.

Adults who do not understand English can enroll in an ESL class offered in a public adult and community education program or private language school.

Public adult and community education programs are often offered in local communities by school districts and community colleges. These programs may provide ESL classes along with tutoring from local volunteers. These programs are often free, or you may pay a small fee. Classes may meet during day or evening hours. Call your local community college or school district office to find the nearest ESL program. Look in the blue pages of your phone book under the heading "Schools-Public."

Most large cities also have private language schools that offer day or evening ESL classes. The cost for these classes is often based on the number of hours of instruction. Private language classes are generally more expensive than public classes. To find a private language school, look in the yellow pages of your telephone book under the heading "Language Schools."

Some community organizations, libraries, and religious groups also offer free or low-cost ESL classes. Check with your local public library, social service agency, or place of worship. The reference librarian at the local library can also tell you about ESL programs and show you where to find ESL books, tapes, CDs, and computer software at the library.


Citation: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Office of Citizenship, Welcome to the United States: A guide for New Immigrants, Washington, DC, 2007, Revised Edition