In order to receive cash assistance from the government for their first three months in the US during the initial reception and placement process (3 months), refugees are required to attend Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) classes. This allows them to learn the English necessary to start working and living in the US.

In addition to the required classes, there are various other options for ESL practice available. Refugees arrive in the US with various levels of English skills, ranging from fluency to illiteracy.  Your support in English-language learning is very important in the process of equipping your newcomer partner for life in the US.

WRD’s Role: WRD enrolls students in school and in ESL classes, and also leads VESL (Vocational English as a Second Language) classes for refugee clients at the office.

Volunteer’s role:

Volunteers can assist refugees in learning English in the following ways:

1. Friendship:
By building a friendship with a refugee, English practice will naturally occur. Whenever you spend time together, be supportive and intentional in your communication and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they will grasp your meaning.

2. Conversation Partner:

Spend one-on-one time with a refugee, intentionally practicing and correcting their spoken English. This may be one of the few times in their lives that they will have the undivided attention of an American who is invested in helping them learn and improve their English.

3. ESL Practice:

WRD staff enrolls refugees in ESL classes as soon after arrival as possible (volunteers can also help with this process.) Once refugees are enrolled in classes, volunteers can assist them in several ways. Volunteers can help familiarize refugees with transportation to and from ESL classes and assist refugees with ESL homework from class. Volunteers can also utilize the “ESL Materials” page on our website. These resources should be used as complements to the ESL classes the refugee will be taking.