Nashville Refugees Working Hard To Learn English

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 23:46:06-05

Tennessee resettles about 1,500 refugees a year , and the majority are placed right here in Nashville.

According to the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute most arrivals are from Burma, Iraq, Bhutan and Somalia.

The TFLI offers 19 classes across 8 sites in South Nashville. One of those sites is Hillcrest United Methodist Church where ESL classes are offered every Tuesday and Thursday. "They really, really wanna learn English" said Helen Whal, an ESL Teacher.

Her Tuesday afternoon class was full, mostly of her students are originally from Bhutan. San Sarki is an interpreter, he says learning English as an adult is difficult but that's not keeping students from trying, not only to learn the language, but also to assimilate into society. "It's hard for them because of the language barrier" said Sarki.

Hillcrest United Methodist Church has been welcoming to the refugee community for many years.

"Hillcrest has a long history of reaching out to this diverse community at least for 20 years" said Rev.Cherie Parker who allows TFLI use their classroom to teach ESL.

In addition to the ESL classes at Hillcrest TFLI also offers the ESL to Go mobile classroom which travels to 3 apartment complexes, and also offers  classes at churches, family resource centers, and in classrooms operated by Nashville's resettlement agencies.

If you're interested in volunteering with ESL contact