Learning English is one of the greatest needs that refugees and immigrants experience when they first arrive in the Portland Metro Area. English fluency is an asset that opens the doors for continuing education, community involvement, and vocational advancement and it is a valuable gift that we can share with our neighbors.
Additionally, English fluency provides a shared language in which faith-based volunteers can connect on a deeper, more spiritual level with those of various, or no, faith background.
English classes offered throughout the Portland metro area but the majority of these classes are held in public areas like libraries, businesses or churches. This makes it difficult or impossible for mothers with young children, elderly, or even some heads of household to attend community English classes. These environments also lend themselves to a more formal and transactional relationship between teacher and student.
ESL Companions (ESLC) is an in-home ESL service that matches trained and vetted volunteers from local churches with families and individuals seeking to learn English. Volunteers are trained in cultural awareness, basic ESL teaching skills, and matters related to how and when to talk about their faith in appropriate settings.
ESLC tutors are matched with an English learner of the same gender who lives in their community. They commit to a once a week hour-long meeting for 8 weeks with the option to renew. The ESL Companion curriculum may use stories from the Bible as the basis for teaching English, where appropriate. Spiritual truths are presented in a discovery format that is geared to oral learners.
Teaching English in-home as opposed to in a classroom helps move the teacher-student relationship outside of the formal and transactional and into the organic and relational. Additionally, volunteers don’t need any previous teaching or cross-cultural experience. We provide teachers with a robust training that they can do in 3 hours, on-going coaching, and an online support group.
Volunteers work in pairs to tutor an individual English learner or they work in groups of four and host a small class of ESL learners in a home. Each in-home group class is targeted to one ethnic group and consists of a shared meal, a Bible-based ESL lesson where appropriate, and a small group discussion and practice time.
How to Get Involved
- If you are a church leader, share this ministry opportunity with your congregation and encourage church members to sign up as a volunteer. If a local church has 10 or more interested volunteers, ESLC will gladly coordinate an orientation training at a time and location that is convenient and strategic for you.
- If you have cross-cultural work experience and have a passion for helping other faith-based volunteers reach their international neighbors than consider applying to be an ESL Companions Coach. Coaches help our volunteers to succeed by meeting with them periodically and helping them to overcome any challenges that they face during the tutoring and church planting process.
- Consider giving financially to support ESL Companions. We operate under a registered 501(c)3, Visions Made Viable, and are authorized to receive donations and to give tax deductible receipts.