Aracely Soto of 48, crossed the border 18 years ago, leaving behind his native Matamoros in Mexico, her idea was like many others, just to come for a few years, save money and return home, but things do not always go as planned.
Aracely currently resides in the city of Russellville, Arkansas, one of the states that offer classes of English as a Second Language (ESL), this is provided for free for adults over 18 years of age no matter race, nationality or immigration status. Aracely has achieved its objective after several years attending ESL classes now she writes, speaks, listens, and reads in English at an 80 percent level. "Sometimes I felt it was like a puzzle, I read ads, books, but did not understand them, also watched cartoons and movies in English and especially I would not missed my ESL classes, trying to not get frustrated and think about what I wanted to achieve" with a smile in her face, she says that now she knows what her children talk about, she can go to the doctor without an interpreter in a state that still has few Latinos, English is the most spoken language, that’s why is so important to learn English.
Currently the Adult Education Center in Russellville is one of 53 centers statewide, so far in 2016 it has an enrollment of 200 students in ESL, distributed in the cities of Russellville, Dardanelle and Danville, being 70 percent Hispanic students from countries such as Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the rest from South Arabia and China, they also provide classes to adults in some industrial factories and churches in the area. Besides they offer classes to people who are preparing for their citizenship test and computer literacy.
For Kristen Musser, an ESL instructor in Russellville, teaching is a tremendous help to migrants, "for 25 years at the Adult Education Center in Russellville we had students from 18 to 80 years of age, that are taught with dynamic and fun methods, there are levels from beginning to advanced English, they are constantly evaluated and we offer a variety of schedules in the morning, noon, and night, the idea is for them to take advantage of this opportunity and those who want to learn have everything they need to achieve it."
Compared to other states where these programs have an economic cost and they only admit students during registration times, the Arkansas Department of Education promotes economically ESL classes allowing free education for adults and open registration all year.
For more information visit www. ace.arkansas.gov or call 479-968-5244.