ESL for ALL: Southern Union offers English as a Second Language class in LaFayette

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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The city of LaFayette will be welcoming a free-to-all satellite English as a Second Language (ESL) course from Southern Union State Community College this summer. 

“We’re super, super excited and are feeling very fortunate that the city actually reached out to us for this partnership,” said Connor Cheaveaux, Director of Adult Education at SUSCC. “It really helps us in places where we don’t have a site already. If they let us know what services that they need, we can help.”

According to Cheaveaux, the course may be up and running as early as late July. The class will be taught out of Vines Funeral Home on B Street in LaFayette. 

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She said that SUSCC was contacted by LaFayette Fire Chief Jim Doody and Merilyn Vines, of Vines Funeral Home, about the idea. 

“They noticed that they were having more people who were not native English speakers moving into LaFayette and understanding that it’s really difficult for people who don’t speak English to not only be able to go to work, but also talk to their kids’ teacher, or go to the bank or have a conversation with a doctor,” she said.

That’s when the idea came about to partner with SUSCC to offer a satellite ELL (English Language Learner) course in LaFayette. SUSCC, a public community college with four campuses across west central Alabama, has offered ELL classes since they started their adult education program. 

There are currently no ESL/ELL classes available in LaFayette, though recently there has been a greater number of non-native English speakers, both students and adults, in the community. Currently, they only offer ELL classes on the Roanoke, Opelika and Auburn campuses. 

“But we are always looking to expand if there are areas in our region that need us …. Too much education is never a bad thing. Any resources we can give because all it’s going to do is help the community,” she added. “There’s absolutely no downside to it.”

Cheaveaux said they are currently working on getting an MOU (memorandum of understanding) together with the city and looking for a teacher for the course so that it can begin as soon as possible. 

“We are incredibly excited to be able to offer ELL classes in LaFayette,” Cheaveaux said.  

On top of that, ELL classes at SUSCC are free to all students. All they need to do to register is be 16 or older, not currently enrolled in K-12 education and have a form of photo ID. 

Cheaveaux said that ID can be a driver’s license, state ID or a passport from your home country. 

After enrolling in the ELL classes, if students are interested they can also register for free GED classes at SUSCC. 

By improving English speaking skills, individuals can gain better access to education, better-earning potential and better health care opportunities for themselves and their families.