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ESL Classes Close Out 2018

ESL courses are something that we implemented into our programming at the direct request of survivors.

Our goal is to equip these women with the knowledge that they need in order to excel in both their professional and personal lives. With a better understanding of the English language, survivors can be confident in their ability to find a job, make friends, and express themselves independently.

The students enrolled in the most recent class, which ran from September 18 through December 4, were looking for ESL resources for a number of reasons. One survivor stated, “Studying English can change my life, my work, my friend group, and give me self confidence.” Another survivor was looking forward to the 12-week course because she wanted to improve herself, find a good job, and "be an example to other women.”

Kelsey Swift, a current PhD student in linguistics with a focus on adult learners of English, has taught English at several non-governmental organizations in the city and served as an English teacher in both Boston and Mexico over the past several years. Kelsey is now working with Back to Humanity to teach English as a second language to survivors of sex trafficking.

Kelsey tries to connect the standard textbook grammar lessons she teaches to the students’ real lives by developing activities that draw from common communicative experiences. “Every class, we do some decoding work with an ‘authentic text,’ like an event schedule from the library or a subway announcement,” she explained. “I try to leave space for questions that students bring to class, whether that’s wondering what a word their co-worker used meant or sharing a photo of a confusing sign with the group, which can turn into their own lessons.”

Kelsey described the students as “a powerful group of women” who each appeared to be gaining more confidence in their linguistic abilities as the course came to a close. According to her, they were more willing and excited to participate in class, even if they were unsure of how to say something. “That kind of practice and being open to fumbling along the way is an important part of learning.”

Although Kelsey only had 12 weeks to teach this particular group of survivors, the lessons she taught will continue to embolden them for years to come. She will begin working with a new class starting on January 22, 2019, when the next semester begins.

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