Nevada’s ESL in-home program is a “lifeline” to many

The English as a Second Language In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, one of three Innovation Grant recipients, was rewarded by the National Literacy Directory for its creative efforts to meet students where they are.

Ana. C. and her young son came to the United States from Central America in 2011, settling in Carson City, Nevada. Ana came with no knowledge of the English language, but felt an urgency to learn the language of her new country. Her neighbors told her about the English as a Second Language In-Home Program of Northern Nevada.

The ESL In-Home Program offers what it calls a “lifeline” to adults who are unable to attend formal classroom settings due to physical disabilities, limited or no transportation, lack of funds for childcare, job constraints, or intimidation. Its program offerings include ESL, Workplace Communication, English Conversation, Computer and Financial Literacy, GED® Preparation, and U.S. Citizenship Study.

After speaking with her neighbors, Ana called the director of ESL In-Home Program and expressed her motivation to learn the language of her new country and to help her children succeed. She was assigned a patient and understanding tutor and began weekly tutoring sessions.

ESL In-Home Program’s trained community volunteers teach one-on-one or in small groups of 2-5, providing the opportunity for students to progress comfortably at a fast pace through personalized attention. Students and tutors generally meet at the tutor’s or student’s home or at public sites at mutually convenient times for both.

Ana’s English comprehension progressed rapidly because she was able to have her lessons at home and practice what she knew in English on a daily basis. After six months of working with her ESL tutor, Ana’s son became ill. She asked her neighbor to stay with her son while she ran to the pharmacy. Because of her work with ESL In-Home Program, she was able to communicate her son’s symptoms and was directed to the medicine he needed. She was also able to read the directions on the product to administer the correct dosage to her son. She then picked up her son’s favorite storybook, which she read to him in English until he fell asleep.

In its 13 years, the ESL In-Home Program has helped over 5,000 families gain or hone English language skills. They currently have 342 students tutored by 142 volunteer tutors in five counties of Northern Nevada. In addition to the acquisition of better jobs, educational degrees, and parenting skills, over 240 participants have gained U.S. Citizenship.

ESL In-Home Program and its partners are also reaching out to parents of at-risk elementary school students. Parents are now given lessons after dropping off or picking up their children from school, making the most of their time at convenient opportunities. If this program proves successful, the Washoe County School District will expand the program to all 33 of its Title I schools.

The Innovation Grant will help expand ESL In-Home Tutors to 10 new students from the over 900 adults on a waiting list who are anxious to learn to speak, read, write, and understand English. Funds will cover the costs to train tutors and to purchase the instructional materials.

The English as a Second Language In-Home Program of Northern Nevada was created to increase literacy in low to middle income bracket adults, especially those who speak English as a second language and to improve the lives of those who struggle with literacy issues within their family, workplace, and community.

Interested in receiving an Innovation Grant from the National Literacy Directory? The next round of applications is currently open and closes on June 9, 2017. This round is to attend ProLiteracy’s Conference on Adult Literacy in September. For more information and to apply, visit