The English Skills Learning Center connects communities through language learning. Each year we bring together over 1,000 adult English language learners, from more than 45 different countries, with over 150 trained and mentored volunteer ESL teachers. Classes are held in libraries, schools, community centers, apartment buildings, and workplaces. Through the support of our partners we are able to offer classes in locations that are familiar and accessible to our students, who may have limited transportation. Our goal is to bring the promise of integration, security, and empowerment to adult English language learners in Salt Lake County by connecting them with members of their new community.
The ESLC was founded as Literacy Volunteers of America - Wasatch Front (LVA-WF) in 1988. Initially, the organization provided adult basic literacy and ESL services. One of the major successes was a program aimed at children who were reading below grade level in elementary school. This program, I Can Read, was later adopted by Utah State Office of Education and implemented statewide. In the face of a rapidly growing population of refugees and other immigrants, LVA-WF began to put more emphasis on helping adult non-English speakers, and since 2001 has worked exclusively in the field of English as a Second Language. In 2003, to better reflect the focus of our organization, we changed our name to English Skills Learning Center.
Students at the ESLC typically cannot access traditional ESL programs due to a variety of barriers such as disability, lack of transportation, irregular work schedule, or childcare needs. We teach only low-income adult immigrants and refugees with very low language proficiency. Because of this, many of our students have limited or no literacy skills, even in their native language. The ESLC addresses inequality and exclusion of immigrant and refugee families through our skills-based classes. Families with improved English skills are more stable, have better access to employment, and can build bridges out of poverty.