Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd
For the vast majority of people who immigrate to the United States, their first order of business is to learn English. The ESL program at the Crossroads Cultural Center in Clifton, New Jersey has been the headquarters for many immigrants who live in the Northeastern United States. The program’s director, Nomie Derani, has been passionately spearheading the Center’s efforts for a number of years now.
Most of the students who take up ESL classes at Crossroads are native, Spanish, Arabic, Polish, or Persian speakers. Recently, Clifton Mayor, James Anzaldi, recognized several of them for their dedication to learning the language.
Anzaldi was the keynote speaker at a ceremony in late August that was held to reward students at Crossroads for their commitment to acclimating themselves to American culture and community by learning the English language.
The sentiment among the students in general and those who were honored at the ceremony in particular was that they want to make strong, positive contributions to their local and national communities and do not want to be a burden because of a language barrier. Several of the honorees claimed that in the short time they have been taking ESL classes, they have been able to earn their driver’s licenses and apply for jobs.
All of the ESL teachers at Crossroads are volunteers and many of them who attended the ceremony noted their respective experiences at the Center to be very positive, both for themselves as well as their students and fellow teachers.
In addition to providing ESL instruction, the Crossroads Cultural Center provides youth mentoring and food assistance to students who have need in those areas. There is also in-depth counseling available with many of the ESL teachers at the Center and is provided in Arabic, Spanish, and of course English.