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Free English Conversation Classes on Campus

One of SLU-Madrid's most successful and popular student service activities celebrates 20 years of community outreach.

Since 2002, SLU-Madrid has opened its classrooms to the Madrid community to share a natural resource: its community of native and not-native but highly proficient speakers of English. Study abroad students from the U.S. pair up with degree-seekers as instructors to deliver free conversation classes to the Madrid community. 

Participants in SLU-Madrid's English conversation classes stand and smile. Two give a thumbs up. Participants represent a range of ages and ethnicities.
Siari Coster's Community ESL class consists of SLU-Madrid students and Madrid-area residents. Submitted photo.


Hamish Binns, of the Department of Modern Languages and ESL, founded and named the program: Community ESL.

Community ESL is one way SLU-Madrid gives back to its neighbors. It also prepares students to become educators and leaders. They take on the responsibilities of teaching, from developing lesson plans to helping adult learners from another country build their English-language skills.

"This reciprocity is what makes it such a successful service-learning opportunity for all involved, and thus reflects SLU's Jesuit mission," said Binns. "Our Community ESL program opens a door to the English-speaking world to professionals, immigrants, and those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to English classes."

Siari Coster, a SLU-Madrid sophomore, said that participating in the program "is a great way to give back to the community …  and to work with those who seek to improve their English knowledge."

"Congratulations to Professor Binns and to every student who has ever participated in Community ESL!" said SLU-Madrid Dean Paul Vita. "It is a marvelous program. Whenever I meet one of our former students and ask them what their best experience in Spain was, if they had volunteered for this program, they always respond 'Community ESL.' I'm not exaggerating."

Learn more about how SLU-Madrid serves its community on its Service and Community Outreach page