Our Learners' Voices

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by Usha Narayanan

The video footage below was taken at Campbell Adult and Community Education (CUHSD) in Campbell, California and highlights the experience of adult English as a Second Language learners.  The video was made possible by the ALLIES initiative.  This initiative in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is engaged in forming a multi-sector alliance that brings adult education schools, community colleges, non-profit agencies, businesses, Workforce Investment Boards etc. to support better integration of immigrants and enhance their contribution to the economy through education and training.

Immigrant adults come to ESL classes for a number of reasons- communicate effectively in their new homeland, become literate for the first time in their lives, do better in their jobs or get a better job, move on to higher education and career training, and help their children do better in school. While most of adult learners have multiple reasons to learn English,the motivation behind these reasons is to be better integrated in their new land. Indeed, civic engagement, even leading to the naturalization process and citizenship, is an interest for many adult immigrants.


Adult schools are portals through which many immigrants start their process of integration.  In these schools they acquire proficiency in English and an introduction to American culture, an understanding of career and educational pathways for them and their family members, and navigate systems and bureaucracies to achieve their goals.


KQED Education ESL Resources on Immigrant Stories:

Immigrant Communities: Exploring Connections (Educator Guide) Lesson plans are designed to build connections between different immigrant communities through knowledge and understanding.

Sample lessons from this Educator Guide

Usha Narayanan, PhD (ESL Program Coordinator at Campbell Adult and Community Education (CACE); Adjunct Faculty at De Anza College). Her experience includes teaching and administering ESL and other Adult Education programs, and teaching Anthropology. She has a Masters’ degree in Educational Administration and her doctoral work is in Anthropology.