Free ESL course offered at San Gabriel Valley Community Center

Advancing Justice-LA volunteers assist immigrant communities.

Advancing Justice-LA volunteers assist immigrant communities.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA) is launching its first-ever English as a Second Language (ESL) course at its San Gabriel Valley Community Center in Monterey Park.

Despite an increasing number of cities in the San Gabriel Valley with a majority Asian American population, there remains a significant lack of resources available to help this ethnically diverse population overcome language barriers to naturalization and civic engagement.

Two years ago, Advancing Justice-LA released a demographic research report, “A Community Of Contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County” about the growth and issues facing L.A. County’s 1,497,960 Asian Americans (15 percent of the county’s population) and 54,169 Pacific Islanders — including the non-immigrant Native Hawaiian sub-demographic — (the largest number in the continental U.S.) between 2000 and 2010.

The report also confirms Los Angeles County as the capital of Asian America, with the largest number of Asian immigrants of any county in the nation, and the home of the largest Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, and Thai populations outside their respective home countries. Chinese and Filipinos comprise the two largest Asian American groups both nationwide and in the county.

“The ability to communicate in English leads to greater independence and access to services,” said Gaelin Monkman-Kotz, ESL course instructor at Advancing Justice – LA. “We are designing the course to address the practical needs of the students and help them feel more comfortable expressing themselves in English. It also provides a good foundation upon which to continue using and improving their language abilities.”

The program is made possible by a grant from the Cities for Citizenship Program through the L.A. Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Cities for Citizenship is a national program that promotes naturalization and financial empowerment programs within immigrant communities. In addition to basic English language courses, the curriculum includes a financial literacy component modeled after a similar Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) education program.

“After launching our Civics program in January 2014, we realized that our students were in need of more hands on assistance with their basic English skills,” said Nasim Khansari, citizenship project director at Advancing Justice – LA. “Through our new ESL classes, not only do we hope to improve the English language ability of our students, but to also provide them with useful information to improve their financial literacy.”

Classes will begin on May 27, 2015, and will be provided free of charge, and is open to any lawful permanent resident (green card holders) looking to build upon their English literacy before beginning the naturalization process and participating in civic opportunities.

For more information and to register for the ESL/civics classes, individuals should contact the organization’s hotline at:
Chinese: 800-520-2356
Vietnamese: 800-267-7395
Korean: 800-867-3640
Khmer: 800-867-3126
Thai: 800-914-9583
English/Other (including Filipino): 888-349-9695

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