Education Services

English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

Programs Impacted by Illinois Funding Crisis

WRDA is committed to excellence in English instruction that meets the practical, “real-life” needs of Refugees and Immigrants.  For many years we have partnered with the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), which provides approximately 70% of the funding for our adult classes and support services such as our Early Childhood Program, transportation assistance and more.  As of November 2015, the State of Illinois has not approved a budget, and the ICCB is unable to provide this needed funding to WRDA.

But English is vital to the success of immigrants coming to the United States, and WRDA is committed to maintaining core services for the most newly arriving refugees and others as space is available.  To fund the program we are reaching out to individuals, foundations and churches. 

To view the funding proposal here.FY16 Education Funding Proposal

To donate to help sustain the programs of WRDA, click here.

The 35 year history of WRDA in working with refugges and immigrants is reflected in our specialized curriculum that is designed to meet the “real-life” needs of our adult learners. The majority of ESL students have minimal English skills when they enroll, but WRDA's Education Services prepares them to function independently and give them the skills to find and keep a job.  ESL classes include:

  • Life Skills ESL classes are traditional classes, offered at a variety of levels, that are designed to help the English language learner with pracitical, day to day activities and to build a foundation for future learning.
  • Job Readiness ESL is a six-week intensive program designed for newly arriving refugees to gain both English language skills and the skills necessary to succeed in the American workforce.  Through a combination of language instruction, interview practice and practical work-life vocabulary refugees are entering the workforce ready to succeed.
  • Gateway Classes are specialized classes using a mostly oral teaching methodology in order to help individuals who had little or no formal schooling or literacy in their native language. 
  • In-Home Tutoring is provided by trained volunteers who are matched with a student.  Tutors and students meet at the times they choose, and focus on expanding the classroom learning as well a building relationships.  Learn more about volunteering as a tutor here.
  • Citizenship Classes are specifically designed to help immigrants prepare for the requirement that they pass an interview and a civics test in English in order to be granted citizenship.  Citizenship classes are conducted by WRDA, and individualized tutoring is offered through area churches where trained volunteers work together in tutoring centers.

Children and Youth Programs

Specialized programs for children ages 3 months to 18 years help kids success linguistically and academically.  These programs include:

  • Early Childhood Programs focus on caring for infants and preparing preschool children to success when they enter school.  While their parents attend one of WRDA's ESL classes, children receive care and instruction of their own from trained teachers and volunteers.
  • K-12 Services provide a range of assistance to children and their parents to help with academic success and adjustment to life in the U.S.  Learn more about these services here.

For more information, please contact:

DuPage Office

Sue Reynolds for general questions
(630) 462-7566 x1022 |

Elizabeth Marsch for ESL Volunteer Opportunities
(630) 462-7566 x1042 |

Aurora Office

Liz Clinton for general questions
(630) 906-9546 x21 |

Elizabeth Marsch for ESL Volunteer Opportunities
(630) 906-9546 x25 |