English as a Second Language

Our ESL Initiative was developed to address one of the most-often self-identified needs of refugees in Buffalo: practical, conversational English language instruction. Many refugees, even after several years of living in Buffalo, do not have the basic English language skills needed to:

  • Communicate with their landlord
  • Ask for directions
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Talk to their child’s teacher
  • Describe symptoms during a doctor’s visit

Without basic English skills, it is difficult for refugees to gain access to community resources and employment opportunities, to advocate for themselves, or to successfully adjust to life in the United States.

The ESL Initiative was started in Spring 2010 with the goal of equipping refugee adults in our community with these vital language skills. Our small-group, conversational English classes are held both in homes and neighborhood locations and are co-taught by community volunteers. Many of our learners are moms who stay at home with young children during the day and so have very limited opportunities to attend English class or to interact with other English speakers.

These classes will improve their confidence, willingness, and ability to use English in everyday situations, as they become empowered to live more fully as members of their new community.