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English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

November 5th, 2014 · Jennie · Staff Recommendations

Q: Help! I just moved here from Japan and need to learn English fast!

You are not alone. Millions of people worldwide learn English as a foreign language using various methods. There are many different English language learning programs available on the Internet. There are just as many English learning course DVDs, CDs, and books for you to choose from. So, where do you start?

Choosing the right program that fits your learning and lifestyle is crucial. Software like Google Translate, Bilingual Dictionaries, thesauruses, andOnline Slang Dictionary can be handy and helpful in translating written words, sentences, and even paragraphs, but they are not as helpful for learning to speak English or practicing conversation.

You may have heard about Rosetta Stone, the foreign language learning company. It uses an immersive approach to teach one English course to all non-English language speakers. All learning, including instructions and explanations, are in English without using the student’s native language at all. Quite a few people find this approach to be very difficult for beginners to learn English, and at an average of two hundred dollars per package, it can be too pricey for some. However, there are still many resources out there for you that are both of good quality and free. I have chosen and listed a few valuable resources below:

To learn from the web:

Rocket Language and Duolingo are among the 2013 PC Magazine Editor’s Choice for Best Language-Learning Software. These programs allow you to practice English anywhere you have Internet access and a few minutes on hand.

Rocket Languages is paid for by the Westchester Central Fund and is free to all Westchester library card holders. Two English learning programs are currently available. One program is designed for speakers of all other languages. It uses the immersion approach, similar to the approach used by Rosetta Stone. Another program is designed specifically for Japanese Speakers to learn English. Both programs cover all areas of learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It gives users a clear overview of all the lessons they need to complete at the beginning and offers a very helpful feature that allows users to speak and record their pronunciations to compare with the teacher’s. It is excellent for beginners who like to work their way consecutively through all of the lessons.

Duolingo is a free online language learning program. PC Magazine rated it the best free program for learning a language. It doesn’t use the immersion approach. It provides English learning courses for speakers of various languages from Arabic to Vietnamese. An app for iPhone and Android is available. Users can sync the app with online software to seamlessly keep track of their progress. It has great interactive audio visual features that encourage users to practice. It is very suitable for beginners.

To learn from audio materials:

Two English learning audio series stand out among many others in the Westchester Library System:

Pimsleur Series follows Dr. Pimsleur’s method and focuses on teaching users to speak and read proficiently. Each course is designed for speakers of a specific non-English language such as French, Japanese, or Spanish. It stresses active participation and reuses words and phrases in new lessons after introducing them, thus enhancing memorization. It’s very good at building vocabularies and sentences while encouraging users to recall what they have learned to help them retain the new knowledge. There are more than two hundred Pimsleur audio materials in the Westchester Library System. Six of the audio CDs are available at the West Harrison Library currently. They are Inglese: English for Italian speakers,Ingles/English for Brazilian Portuguese speakers, Englisch/English for German speakers, Al-Inklīzīt/English for Arabic speakers, Angliĭskiĭ [CD] : English for Russian speakers, and Anglais [CD] : English for French speakers.

Living Language Series offers two kinds of programs: one English course for speakers of all other languages and another designed for speakers of a specific non-English language. They provide some of the best live courses. There are more than 130 Living language CDs for non-English speakers to learn English at various levels in the Westchester Library System. Two of them, English for the Real World and Easy English are available at West Harrison Library.

To learn from a teacher or converse with a native speaker:

If you would like to learn English with a teacher and want to practice English with a native speaker, the following library programs are free in Harrison:

Citizenship/English class is taught by an ESL teacher from Southern Westchester BOCES on Monday through Friday mornings from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm in at the West Harrison Library. Free classes in the evenings and on Saturdays are also available in other locations in Westchester. More information can be found in the BOCES 2014-2015 Fall & Winter Adult Education Brochure.

English Conversation Partners Program is your chance to practice English conversation skills with a volunteer native speaker. It’s a weekly program located at both the West Harrison Library (by appointment, call 948-2092 for more information) and at Uncle Henry’s Bar & Grill on 309 Halstead Avenue, Harrison at 11 am on Mondays.

A group of Japanese speakers meet informally at Sollazzo Center on 270 Harrison Avenue to converse with Leo, a volunteer native speaker, on Friday mornings from 10 am to noon on school days.

Learning a foreign language is a daunting task. It can be time consuming and requires patience and persistence. We are here to help you every step of the way whether you would like to learn English using software on Internet, listening to audio CDs, reading books, or practicing with native speakers. You have come to the right place to learn and practice English.

Welcome to Harrison. Let’s speak English!

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  1. I am interested in volunteering to teach English at the Harrison Library. I have over 8 years of teaching under my belt (teaching mostly Spanish, and some French), but I am thinking about transitioning into ESL type teaching outside the public school setting, and would like to practice it a bit before committing to getting the certificate in it. Also, there are several types of certificates one can try to get, and I’m not really sure which one is the best to go for. If you think you have any need for more volunteers, please let me know! Thank you, Andrea Costa

    1. Hi Andrea,
      My name is Sebastian, and I am looking for a volunteer to have a “conversation class in English” for me. Please, contact me if you are interested. Thanks!!

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