115. Learning English


According to the 2000 US Census, 39 percent of people who live in California do not speak English at home. In Las Casas, a city in southern California, 79 percent of residents speak little or no English at home or at work. To combat this problem, Las Casas is instituting a program called Love My English. Program funding will come from government grants and corporate donations.

The program has two goals. One is to improve residents' English so that they can get better jobs. The other is to provide more qualified workers for corporations throughout the county.

"We are desperate for good workers who speak English," said Sydney Rove of Containers, Ltd. "We have nationwide truck routes for good drivers, and we need salespeople in almost every state."

"We want everyone in Las Casas to speak English," said Ivan Libby, administrator of the school district. "They don't have to speak fluent English, of course, just survival English, how to give and get directions, order food, visit the doctor, read labels on food and medicines, the basic stuff. Once they're able to read and write more English, they'll be able to get better work and they'll be more confident. We hope this confidence will inspire some of them to go on to get their high school diploma and perhaps even get a degree from a community college or a university."

Currently, most Las Casas residents qualify for only low-paying jobs. In fact, the pay is often so low that residents need to work two jobs to make ends meet. This program will help them get better-paying jobs not only in California but also nationwide. The district will mount a huge advertising campaign to alert residents to the free program. Love My English will be offered at various sites and times to reach as many residents as possible.

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