ESL/English for US Citizenship

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English for Citizenship for Men and Women from Culturally-Isolated Communities

Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Citizen of the United States

Partners

A Pilot Project Created in Collaboration with: The Yemeni American Culture Organization, MAMI Interpreters, the YWCA and Family Services

Goal

The goal of this project is to prepare refugees for US citizenship, teaching them their rights and responsibilities at home and in the community, and developing their ability to communicate in English and to pass the citizenship exam in English.

Background

The Yemeni American Culture Association recognized that some segments of the immigrant/refugee population are especially isolated from the rest of the community and, as a result, have difficulty in transitioning into the United States' social, cultural, legal and governmental systems. It approached MAMI Community Interpreters, the YWCA and Family Services of the Mohawk Valley, hoping to develop a program that would provide both men and women an opportunity to learn about their new country by studying for their citizenship.

Overview

We envision three six-week sessions in an English as a Second Language class where men and women from Yemen and other culturally isolated countries prepare for their citizenship test by beginning to understand their rights and responsibilities as US citizens. The initial classes will provide a background about their new country and how the US government works. Subsequent classes will address the issues of rights and responsibilities in the home, in the workplace and in the community. The final classes will discuss what happens when either the government, an agency or the citizen does not fulfill responsibilities. We will discuss the actions you can take when you are denied your rights as a citizen and what the government can do to protect the citizen. Other important concepts for discussion will be: democracy and what it means, balance of power in government and in the home, a land where everyone has a voice, equality in the workplace and other life situations, responsibility, justice, accountability, rule of law.


To better prepare students for their citizenship test, we use sample questions from the test.

Topics

Based on Citizenship Questions

• Geography

  • History: founding – freedom of religion; revolutionary war – taxation/representation; civil war – slavery, women's fight for right to vote, World Wor II – defense, protection of home and family, new role for women
  • Leaders: Cabinet
  • Structure and process of government – balance of power
  • Rights – bill of rights – life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, work, safety, equal rights for all
  • Responsibilities – obey the law, vote, pay taxes, budget, respect for life and property
  • The Law at Work – the legal system, courts – what happens when someone breaks the law

Life Components

We will address the following components of life in the United States:

  • Courts and Police
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Religion
  • Economics, Work, Government, Social Services, Media, Behaviors (what is acceptable,

what is unacceptable in this society and the consequences of unacceptable behaviors). Organization

Course Information

  • Two courses, one for women and one for men (as much as possible, the men and women should be each others' spouses or partners): each course to include a total of three 6-week sessions.
  • Each week of the 6-week session includes two 2-hour classes for a total of four hours per week and 24 hours per session.
  • Students will meet with instructors (ESL and cultural assistants), 2 times per week for 2 hours each meeting. The ESL instructor will be present at all times. In half the classes, a special presenter with targeted expertise will join the ESL instructor.
  • Total face-to-face instruction: 144 hours for ESL instructor and 72 hours for special presenter.
  • Students will be expected to attend all meetings and complete all exercises in order to receive promised benefit from the course.
  • Classes and assignments will be structured so that the men and women can go home to do homework together and discuss questions.

Class Size

  • Expected number of students: 15 men, 15 women

Guidelines for Teaching the Course

  • The course will be highly interactive, including many opportunities for students to use their developing English skills.
  • Vocabulary must be kept simple and easy to understand. The focus will be on the specific questions that are used for the citizenship exam. We will relate the main concepts of the course to these questions.
  • Students will be expected to learn/memorize the answers to the questions to prepare them for the citizenship test.
  • We will group terms taken from the questions into cluster as a memory aid for the students.

Logistical Support for the Course

  • After the course is completed, the sponsoring organizations will invite the students to a community social group to support them during their transition. This will be especially helpful for the women who are often more isolated.
  • A babysitting service will be provided, to ensure that the women and the men and attend the sessions.
  • A transportation service will be provided.
  • Snacks will be provided.