Teaching English and Citizenship Classes

Impact Area

Welcome Immigrants

Volunteer Group Name & URL

The Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity

Organization Served & URL

Montgomery County residents

Project Goal/Description

To teach English courses at the County's Gilchrist Center at one of four different levels, including more structured classes that require registration and more informal conversation classes attended on a drop-in basis. Also, to teach an 8-week class to prepare people to pass the U.S. Citizenship exam. The class involves American history and government topics as well as reading, writing, and speaking exercises. The class is all in English and participants would need an intermediate English level to take the class.

Timeline for Planning

  • One month before: Research the different types of programs and decide which you would prefer teaching. E-mail staff contact to express interest in teaching and to schedule an interview. 
  • On a weekly basis: English and citizenship classes require a minimum of 2-3 hours of planning, preparation, and photocopying per week. For English and citizenship courses, materials are available but for drop-in classes, volunteers need to prepare the curriculum.

How Many Volunteers

About 25 volunteers, year-round. Classes start each new season. For each class, there is one teacher and teacher assistants. Classes consist of 5-15 people. Time commitment for volunteer teachers includes planning time plus another 2 hours of class time for 8 weeks. Professional development such as teacher exchanges may involve up to an additional 4 hours per year.

How Was This Publicized to Recruit Volunteers?

Volunteers don't need to do any publicity. The Gilchrist Center pays all overhead costs.

Required Facilities, Materials & Expenses

  • Facilities/Space: Classes are held at the Gilchrist Center facilities.
  • Project supplies: The Gilchrist Center provides teaching materials.

Challenges

Volunteers need a minimum of one year teaching adults. Trying to understand the needs of students can be difficult. Classes often have students at different levels of understanding. It may be challenging to teach adults who have already worked an 8-hour day (including keeping the materials interesting and relevant). You may be asked to submit a sample lesson plan. Keep in mind that this project requires a time commitment.

Group Type

Nonprofit

Strategic Priority Addressed

Vital living for all our residents

Result

80 percent of students complete the class. Results include the satisfaction of knowing you are helping people learn a language and/or become a U.S. citizen, and seeing students achieve their goals (they have better communication with their bosses or their children's teachers, and are better able to find a job or apply to college).

Special Points of Interest

  • This is a particularly good activity for those interested in a cross-cultural experience and in meeting people from all over the world. 
  • Any knowledge of lesson planning is helpful.
  • This project can be used to fulfill teaching requirements in a degree or certificate program. It's called "TESOL" (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages).