English as a Second Language - ESL / Citizenship

English as a Second Language

The English as a Second Language (ESL) program teaches conversational English, reading, writing, and speaking to adults whose native language is not English. Leveled classes are delivered by highly trained instructors who use research-based curriculum. The main objective is to improve learners’ English communication skills, imparting practical, everyday information, and expanding their understanding of our community and the United States.

Many students enter the program with goals of obtaining employment, promotions, or U.S. Citizenship, going to the doctor without a translator, understanding bills or documents, or helping a child succeed in school. Through GLC’s student centered approach, students are able to acquire knowledge and skills to be better family members, employees, and active partners in the education of their children and members of society.



Hector Cortes began taking ESL classes at Gaston Literacy Council with a minimal grasp of conversational English. Thirsting for knowledge and understanding, he embraced the language and culture and now his test scores categorize him as an advanced level student. “Classes have increased my possibilities to earn more money and have a better job,” Hector stated. “I have better communication. My conversational skills are growing. Everyday, my co-workers and clients tell me my English is better.”

Equipped with an enormous English vocabulary, he is now determined to increase his speed and flow of the language. “My aspiration is to have my own company here,” he states with enthusiasm. “First, my goals are to continue my education and go to college.”

Hector has a diploma from Columbia, his native country, and attended college there, and he would like to earn the same credentials in the United States. The first step is to acquire a high school equivalency diploma. Although the GED® is offered in Spanish, Hector feels that taking the English version will better prepare him for college courses. Hector mused, “Why not do it? All my life, I want to be learning new things.”

According to Hector, history is one the areas that is least familiar to Hispanics but yet the most important. He states, “This is necessary information people need to know to pass the oral interview for citizenship. It is so important to know the constitution, presidents, customs, laws, and policies of this country.”

In response to the classes, he stated, “It is important to see how the immigrants have been coming to this country and how they discovered new opportunities for their life. I think it was perhaps more difficult in early history for immigrants. They had to create many of their own opportunities. For me, there are already many.”


GLC offers specialized instruction to permanent residents who want to prepare for Naturalization. Classes are designed to address the following topics:

  • The Naturalization Process (eligibility, application process, biometrics, interview and oath)
  • American History (Colonial Period and Independence, the 1800’s, Recent American History, Native Americans)
  • American Government (Principles of American Democracy, Systems of Government, and Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship)
  • Integrated Civics (geography, symbols, and holidays)