The Catholic Charities English as a Second Language (ESL) Program recently celebrated its end-of-the-year milestones at Corpus Christi Church in Woodside, Queens. After several weeks of advanced college-level English, more than 60 participants received a certificate of completion to recognize their hard work and dedication during the semester. Students and staff acknowledged this special occasion with a feast from around the world. Everyone brought in dishes specific to their native countries’ cuisine and honored their cultural heritage.
Though the program provides free English classes for individuals interested in learning the language, students also receive social services and legal referral information about U.S. citizenship and other immigration services. This year, one student who applied to become a U.S. became a naturalized citizen.
The Catholic Charities ESL Program also collaborates with our affiliate agency, Catholic Migration Services, to provide free advice and representation to low-wage workers with employment problems and questions. An employment lawyer with Catholic Migration Services held workers’ rights workshops during the program and students learned about a variety of issues that may arise in the workplace and how they can protect themselves against employment violations including unpaid wages and minimum and overtime wage theft.
A representative from Chase Bank, a partner organization, also organized several workshops enabling the students to become more informed and confident in banking, finances and cybersecurity.
This year, student milestones in the Catholic Charities ESL Program reached far beyond the classroom. Our team celebrated students who received their GED diploma, another who purchased a home and moved to Connecticut where they enrolled their children in school, refugees who received their work authorization and student volunteers who gave back to the class by offering their time to assist teaching others in the classroom.
Since returning to in-person instruction, the Catholic Charities ESL Program in Queens continues to expand. Classes, which are held at the Catholic Charities Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program in Woodside, Corpus Christi Church also in Woodside, and the Catholic Charities Peter J. DellaMonica Older Adult Center in Astoria, will now also be available at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona. To date, our team has registered 150 students from Our Lady of Sorrows and the surrounding community in Corona.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is excited to bring our ESL Program to more neighbors interested in learning English as a second language while additionally providing employment skills through job training and career preparation and computer classes. To enroll in classes, learn more about the schedule or for more information click here.
Click through the photo gallery for a recap of their festivities!