English literacy program for immigrants expands to Aspen | AspenTimes.com

English literacy program for immigrants expands to Aspen

Local immigrants who want to learn English will have one more venue for doing so come mid-June.That’s when English In Action, which once was strictly a midvalley operation, is scheduled to open its doors at a new location at the Pitkin County Library.The organization began in 1994 as an adult literacy program operating out of the Basalt Regional Library. It was in response to the library board’s realization that immigrants needed a program to help them learn English and begin assimilating into the culture of the United States.Steady growth over a decade forced the organization out of its original home at the library in downtown Basalt and into larger office space in El Jebel. With the move came a name change and an extension of its service area to include those living outside Basalt.And now, director Julie Fox-Rubin said, the mission and service area are extending again to include the valley’s working population from Aspen to El Jebel.Fox-Rubin said the organization has regularly received calls for service from people living in upvalley communities such as Woody Creek, Aspen Village, Truscott Place, the Maroon Creek Club’s affordable housing complex and Snowmass Village, as well as parts of Aspen. English In Action turned down upvalley calls for service because its facilities couldn’t handle them.So talks began recently with Pitkin County librarian Kathy Chandler, who agreed to provide free office space to English In Action. “We’re so excited to not have to turn people away,” Fox-Rubin said.According to the organization’s literature, roughly 85 percent of its clients are from Latin America, and the other 15 percent are largely from Asian countries.Some students are educated in their native languages, while some have never been to a school and are illiterate in their native tongues.The organization last year worked with 67 adults from 12 countries, a level of service that involved 63 volunteers teaching more than 2,400 hours.For more information about English In Action, call the Basalt office at 963-9200.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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