Mastering English as a Second Language @ the Mercer County Library System

After moving to central New Jersey from western Michigan almost 20 years ago, I quickly discovered my favorite aspect of life here.  It was the diversity.  The diversity of people here, both native and foreign born, gives New Jersey its rich flavor of life, including its food, dress, customs and economic vibrancy.  Today, I’ll focus on a critical need of our new immigrant population, English Language acquisition and how our library system can help fulfill the need.

Today immigration is a prominent subject being discussed with widely varying opinions.   One thing that most of us do agree on is the importance of immigrants learning and using English once they are here.  English language skills help greatly in societal assimilation and economic success for immigrants.  Our communities benefit when individuals learn the skills needed to become part of society.

Our libraries offer both materials for English Language study and classes too!

At this time two branches offer ESL (English as a Second Language) classes to adult learners.  The Hightstown branch offers a weekly basic ESL class on Tuesday evenings.  After mastering the class the student can continue their studies during weekday evenings at a local public school.

The West Windsor branch is offering an English Conversation Class on Friday afternoons through the month of February.  The class focus is on everyday conversational interactions to support the student’s fluency and gain greater confidence.  It does require some basic command of the language.  This class is offered at various times during the calendar year.

Both classes are listed on our program calendar.

Literacy Volunteers of America uses all of our library branches as sites for their tutors.   Trained volunteers tutor English Language Learners (ELL) on a one-on-one basis.  Volunteers also tutor native born adults who struggle with literacy issues.  Ask at your branch’s reference desk for LVA’s contact information if you wish to be tutored or to be a volunteer.

For native Spanish speakers learning English, the library system subscribes to Mango Language learning program.  This program, which can be found on our website with our databases, is an excellent resource for language study.  It can be used by English learners who speak English.  However, it is also available for English speakers who want to learn Spanish, French, Italian and Mandarin Chinese.

As an English Language Learner, you can choose from audio programs on CD, DVDs or books to support your efforts to learn the language.  Many of our materials teach English in a student’s native language. Below are some suggested materials taught in English that are available from our libraries:

Audio programs on CD:
Fluent English
Instant Immersion ESL English as a Second Language
Pronounce it Perfectly in English
English in Mind

English for New Americans: Everyday Life
In English
Easy English. Volume 1, Understanding Basic Conversation
Learning English Steps 1-2-3

ESL Beginner: English as a Second Language Made Nice and Easy!
English for Everyday Activities: a Picture Process Dictionary
Practice Makes Perfect. English Grammar for ESL Learners
Speak American: a Survival Guide to the Language and Culture of the U.S.A.

As mentioned above, the library system also has numerous materials available for English language study in patrons’ native languages.  I encourage anyone to contact their local branch’s reference desk for help in finding the right materials for you.

- Kim L.


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