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East Bluff Community Center offering a free advanced English course for non-native speakers

The East Bluff Community Center building at 512 E. Kansas could be in line for improvements if their bid for a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant is successful.
Tim Shelley
The East Bluff Community Center building at 512 E. Kansas, Peoria

The East Bluff Community Center will offer a free advanced English class for native speakers of other languages, beginning this weekend.

The weekly conversation-group course is for anyone who already knows the basics of English, but wants to build their confidence in speaking and listening.

EBCC Executive Director Kari Jones said there's been a growing interest in the community for this type of instruction.

“We have a lot of different cultures and languages spoken in the East Bluff, which is awesome. But we also know that sometimes it can be a barrier for people in work, in community engagement, and just other personal goals that they might have, if they aren't really confident to use English,” said Jones.

While the course is for people who naturally speak any language, it is motivated by a surge in the area's Spanish-speaking population.

“A lot of the businesses on the Wisconsin (Avenue) corridor are Hispanic-owned, and so we've really seen a lot more influence of Hispanic families,” said Jones. “A lot of them have said that for the adults in the family, for the parents or the grandparents, that they would like an opportunity to improve their English.”

Jones said the program is geared toward adults, but it also welcomes teenagers who are in the category of advanced and want to improve their fluency.

“It's very much conversation-based and listening-based, so for people who already know vocabulary, they already know the grammar, and what's holding them back a little bit, it's just that they don't really feel confident to use English in their daily lives,” said Jones.

The free hour-long classes will be held at 1:30 on Saturday afternoons, with the first session starting this weekend. Jones said the course is open-ended and flexible with rolling enrollment, so people can attend as long as they wish.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.