Livingston Public Library Offers ESL Classes to Adult Residents

The highly successful program has grown to 40 volunteer teachers and 87 students of all ages.


The following information is courtesy of the Township of Livingston:

Following in the tradition established by Andrew Carnegie, who believed that one of the public library’s most important functions was to help assimilate immigrants into American culture, the Livingston Public Library is offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adults residing in the Township.

This highly successful program was started in 2003 under the coordination of Steve Werdenschlag, a dedicated volunteer, and his team of 5 volunteer teachers. The program started with 13 students but it has grown to 40 volunteer teachers and 87 students of all ages. The program has become so successful that there is an ESL waiting list of students ready and willing to learn.

“More volunteer teachers are needed to keep up with demand,” said Werdenschlag. “ESL teachers have varied educational backgrounds and come from a multitude of professions, but all have the same thing in common. They enjoy volunteering because they are doing a good deed and it’s good for the community, and they stay because they enjoy it!”

ESL teachers participate in 1 hour training with the ESL Coordinator and sit in on at least two classes before students are assigned to them. ESL classes are comprised of one teacher and two or three students.

“An ideal class would be a Latino student, a Russian student, an Asian student, and an American teacher,” continued Werdenschlag. “The focus of the class is on using the English language as a tool and assimilation into American culture and less on linguistics. We have students who are complete beginners and unfamiliar with the English language to advanced students discussing classical novels and writing dissertations.”

“Our aim is to help meet the needs of all Livingston residents,” explained Judith E. Kron, Director of the Livingston Public Library. “We have staff members who speak 24 different languages, some of whom are immigrants themselves, so they understand the difficulties facing our residents. Our Library houses a huge collection of ESL materials for teachers and students including Easy English Newspapers. We have a wide range of World Language books, CD’s, and DVD’s for native speakers as well as learning language audio CD’s and DVD’s and access to the MANGO Learning Language database on the Library’s website.”

“We believe it is important to embrace all cultures, so the Livingston Public Library provides diverse programs to appeal to all members of the community, from the very young to the young at heart,” added Kron. “We are always looking at ways to meet the changing needs and interests of residents by introducing new programs and expanding others. The ESL classes offer a valuable resource and support to immigrants learning to live in a culture that is different from the one they grew up with.”

To volunteer as an ESL teacher, learn more about the ESL program or for more information on other programs and events hosted by the Livingston Public Library, call 973-992-4600, or visit the Library website www.livingston.bccls.org. The Livingston Public Library is located at 10 Robert Harp Drive, between the Town Hall and Livingston High School.


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