The Intensive English Institute(IEI), in collaboration with multiple, local non-profits, has been offering free ESL classes to the Muncie community since 2016.
Currently, the IEI is offering free ESL classes at the Ross Community Center. These classes are a collaborative project between Ball State University and the Ross Community Center. ESL classes run throughout the academic year and are taught by faculty from the IEI. They help foster language development, provide employment guidance, and offer opportunities for learners to grow and thrive in their community.
Classes are offered four times a week and provide language assistance in reading and English conversation. Dr. Susan Luo, (Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies) focuses on grammar and reading, while Safwan Malasalih (M.A. in Linguistics and Translation) assists with listening and speaking. Dr. Luo and Safwan Malasalih collaborate on lesson plans which focus on themes essential to everyday life, such as: transportation, work, school, housing, banking, the library, and more. Faculty have a great desire to support the linguistic needs of the community members, while also enhancing their social interactions.
Community ESL classes complement Ball State University’s strategic plan for community engagement by “mobilizing and leading partnerships that revitalize and sustain our city and our region.” Classes are taught by BSU faculty, with the support of graduate students, to enhance the classroom experience for ESL learners. Faculty and graduate students also benefit from cultural exchanges and the opportunity to stretch their academic repertoire.
The revival of this collaborative community teaching experience between Ball State University and Muncie community gained considerable traction when Dr. Susan Luo, Safwan Malasalih, and Interim Director of the IEI, Dr. Nell Rose Hill, presented at the Indiana Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL) 2021 fall conference. The presentation focused on the need for community ESL, how to start and run a community ESL program, curriculum challenges and rewarding experiences, and funding opportunities. Attendees provided insights into current practices at their respective universities, schools and communities.
Interested individuals may call Ross Community Center at 765-747-4741 or visit the center at 1110 W. 10th Street in Muncie. More information is provided on Ross Community Center’s website.
The ESL collaboration with the Intensive English Institute at Ball State University has been wonderful because it has allowed us to strengthen the bridges of linguistic and cultural communication with community friends who seek to learn English to acculturate to the U.S. society. The IEI team members we collaborate with – Nell Rose Hill, Susan Luo and Safwan Malasalih – are marvelous. We deeply appreciate and enjoy this collaboration.
-Jacqueline Hanoman, Executive Director, Ross Community Center
Teaching community ESL has added new insights into my ESL teaching career. As a bilingual ESL teacher, I teach and learn from community members. Through teaching English, I learned much of the life stories and struggles of my students. I could see many of their colorful cultures and admire the dreams they held for their futures. My community ESL teaching went beyond a second language learning process; it was the application of ESL teaching through the sharing of the ups and downs of our lives.
– Susan Luo, Community ESL instructor
Teaching Community ESL provides me with the skills needed to handle a class of varying proficiency levels, diverse cultural backgrounds, and different learning skills. The dynamic nature of the class makes it essential for the teacher to adapt in a more flexible fashion to the growing linguistic needs of the participants as their language grows. The unstructured nature of the class invites unique teaching approaches and out-of-the-box techniques. Overall, teaching community ESL is a rewarding teaching experience, and a crucial community service.
– Safwan Malasalih, Community ESL instructor
I enjoyed volunteering at the Ross Community Center in Susan Luo’s class. This experience was part of my EDAC 780 course and will contribute to the development of my TESOL and Linguistics background and skills with a variety of adult learners with diverse backgrounds in a practical learning environment. I personally enjoyed learning and connecting with immigrants in the community, and this experience opened me to a world outside the bubble created by the university. I appreciate that these students benefited from an improvement of their English proficiency applicable to their everyday life, which will help them to become more independent US residents.
-Martina Schiavo, Graduate Student, Adult and Community Education