Immigrating to a new country can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak the language. For many newcomers to America, lacking English skills can present a significant hurdle for fully integrating into communities, schools and workplaces. And for those interested in improving, finding conveniently located classes, affording lessons and fitting the time into busy schedules makes it an even more difficult challenge to overcome. Improving English skills is central for many immigrants to thrive in American life, especially in the workplace. This is why New American Workforce partners with nearly 300 businesses around the country, 36 of which provide English classes at the worksite. Recently, New American Workforce partnered with Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC to bring English classes to their employees. This 12-week English class focused on vocabulary and grammar related to daily living, as well as scenarios specific for the workplace. Here are the stories of three of the employees who took the English class and say it changed their careers and lives for the better.
Belkis, originally from the Dominican Republic, works as Operating Room Support at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She understands that being in an operating room can be especially frightening for her patients, so being able to introduce herself and explain what she is doing is critical. After taking the English class, Belkis finds this communication much easier. Given the intensity of the operating room, she says: “it’s very important that I understand them and that they understand me.” She is therefore especially grateful that her English has improved and that she is now more confident engaging with her patients.
Jenny also participated in the English class, alongside Belkis. She says that the class greatly improved her life outside of work, as well as in her job. Because of the class, she now communicates better with her boss and her patients. She is confident she will continue improving and feels this will allow her to do her job even better. The English class accommodated her busy schedule and gave her the tools she needed to excel in the workplace and in her community.
Another class participant, Mercedes, has been working at Sibley Memorial Hospital for 16 years, originally emigrating from El Salvador. She is grateful her employer gave her the opportunity to improve her English and is committed to learning more. Improving English is especially important for her, as she plans to begin the process of becoming a United States citizen next year.