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Community ESL Volunteers Teach Free English Classes to Hundreds

For Randy Almanzar, a SLU-Madrid sophomore from New Jersey, volunteering as a teacher for SLU-Madrid’s Community ESL program has afforded him the opportunity to serve and integrate with people from Madrid. This semester, more than 300 members of the local community are taking free English language classes taught by 51 student volunteers like Almanzar.

Randy Almanzar
Randy Almanzar, a SLU-Madrid sophomore who is pursuing a major in psychology, made a weekly commitment this semester to teach English language classes to adult learners from the local community as part of the Community ESL program. This semester, a total of 51 student volunteers are teaching more than 300 locals.

“ESL teaching is a way for me to interact with the locals and build a relationship between different worlds through a common language,” Almanzar says. “Seeing how excited people are to learn the language and actually engage in English makes teaching worthwhile.”

Founded in 2002, the Community ESL program utilizes one of SLU-Madrid’s greatest assets - native English speakers - to meet the growing demand in Madrid for English proficiency. A faculty-led initiative, the program challenges students to become responsible educators and leaders. It fosters deeper connections between the SLU-Madrid and local community, which proves beneficial to both student volunteers and adult language learners.

Student volunteers are not required to have previous teaching experience, though they are asked to make a weekly commitment for the whole semester. Program director Hamish Binns, M.A., a seasoned language teacher, assists with class preparation as needed. According to Binns, “Student-teachers learn as much about the language and themselves as their adult students.”

Each semester, hundreds of SLU-Madrid students live out their identity as men and women for others by volunteering to serve the local community. They provide companionship to the homeless, mentor children with hearing-impairments, teach English and much more. Find out more about service opportunities from Paloma Gómez de Salazar, campus minister and Student Life program assistant, at paloma.gomezdesalazar@slu.edu.