Eighty community members are studying English at Goshen College this semester.

This is double the number from the first such language class, which was offered in the spring of 2015, and this is the third English class offered by the Center for Intercultural and International Education since its beginning in 2015.

The first spring semester had 44 students, the second spring semester had 60 students and now this fall semester has 80 students enrolled, which is a 55 percent increase from the first spring semester class that was offered in 2015.

The class this fall is composed of three levels. The first level, an orientation level, is the largest, with 39 students, two instructors and one teaching assistant. The second level, basic instruction, has one instructor for 22 students. The third class, the intermediate level, also has only one instructor for the 18 students signed up for this level.

The students vary in both age and country of origin, with students ages ranging from 20 to 50 coming from, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, México, Puerto Rico, Tanzania and Venezuela.

Marisela Velez is a 39-year-old from Aguascalientes, Mexico who has been in the United States for almost 22 years. Velez is currently in the level three class.

“It was hard coming to classes at first,” she said, “but I like it.”

Most of the community members enrolled chose to take a class because they have not learned English or want to improve. Some have the desire to further their education and want to prepare by bettering their English. Others want to advance at work, like becoming a group leader or supervisor, but they may need more fluency for that promotion.

“I want a better job, to communicate more with people, and live better here,” said Velez.

Goshen College is one of the few places in the city that offers English classes. Goshen High School and St. Mark’s Methodist Church both discontinued their classes in recent years.   

Rocio Diaz is the CIIE coordinator of intercultural community engagement and works on building a bridge between the college and the community.

“It is important to create relationships by fulfilling their needs, and empower them to be successful,” said Diaz.

Classes began Sept. 12 and will run through Dec. 15, Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Over the course of these three months, over 100 hours of teaching will be extended to the students. The cost of the course is $300, due by the first day of classes.

Participants have to first fill out a registration form, and after that, they are evaluated individually to determine the level of class they will be placed in. During that evaluation they will need to perform an oral test, followed by a written test. Once students have been evaluated, they know which level they will be in and will know which classroom to attend in the administration building on GC’s campus.   

After a week of classes, they are tested again, to see if they will remain in that class, or go to a lower or higher level. When the course is over, students receive a certificate of completion signed by Gilberto Perez, director of CIIE, the instructor depending on the level and the school’s dean, Ross Peterson-Veatch.

“You need to work hard to make your dreams a reality,” said Velez.