English Classes At B.C. Prove Popular With
A/B Immigrants

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

Immigrants who have settled in the Allston-Brighton community filled two sessions of an English-as-a-second-language course offered this summer through the Neighborhood Center.

The sessions were the latest in a series of ESL courses that are gaining in popularity among residents from diverse backgrounds, said Neighborhood Center Director Timothy Burke.

All of the ESL classes are taught by BC volunteers, Burke added, and Jeffrey Chamberlin, '97, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, '00, gave up their Saturdays in May, June and part of July to teach the sessions on campus. And there was no shortage of students.

Each 15-seat class was quickly filled, Burke said, and several residents had to be wait-listed.

"The response has been great," Burke said. "People in the community are very anxious to take the classes and are pleased with the results. It's spreading by word of mouth, and more and more people are asking us about it."

The demand for ESL classes was one of the first needs identified by the community when the center began soliciting neighborhood input shortly after it opened in early 1995. The center responded by soliciting volunteer instructors from the student body, then sending them for training to Healthy Boston, which developed curriculum and materials for the classes. Once training was complete, the students were assigned to several community organizations to teach classes.

But demand for the classes among Allston-Brighton's Russian, Brazilian, Hispanic and Asian immigrants grew so quickly, that Healthy Boston asked Burke if BC would consider hosting some of the classes this summer.

In addition, Mary Ellen Fulton, assistant to the director at the Neighborhood Center, and a graduate student have been trained by Healthy Boston to prepare future student volunteers for the classes.

"This is perfect for what we're trying to do at the Neighborhood Center," Burke said. "We're making the resources of BC available to the community and the greatest resources we have are our students. When we can match them with the needs of the community, it works out very well for everybody."

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