Greetings from ESL and Immigrant Ministries
Speak Easy
Newsletter from English as a Second Language and Immigrant Ministries
Spring 2019
Neda's Story

By Neda Rahimi, Current Volunteer and Former Student at Vienna Presbyterian Church

When I began the long, dark road of immigrating to America, I had a beautiful, precious baby in my belly. My partner had to stay back home with his family because his father was on his death bed and, in fact, died the day after I left for America in September of 2008. When I arrived here, I hardly spoke a word of English. I was unfamiliar with the culture and the people. I did not even understand the lines on the roads that guided the traffic. I had a bachelor's degree from one of the best universities in Iran, but yet I felt lost in the grocery store, doing something as mundane as buying cheese.
Coming from Iran to America was like crossing a bridge without knowing what was on the other side. As I first entered America, I endured a culture shock. People were moving at a different and much faster pace. There was so much diversity and so much to navigate through. Everything was so different from what I was familiar with. Thankfully, after three months, a light appeared at the end of the bridge. I was introduced to the Vienna Presbyterian Church ESOL program. I met the director (Doris) and she was so supportive. She hugged me and invited me to stay for the Christmas party. She was so genuine and real that I felt relieved and supported and it made me cry. Not tears of sadness, but tears of relief. This was my first independent contact with this community in the States. I felt so lucky and I started learning English.
At Vienna Presbyterian, I did not just learn a language at the ESOL program. I learned a new lifestyle, a new culture, and a new way of living life. I learned the skills I needed to cope with my day-to-day life independently. As time passed, with the support of the church I could stand on my own feet and start my life again. I believe any immigrant should pay back to their community. For myself, I do this by teaching a citizenship class at Vienna Presbyterian in order to help the immigrants who need to apply to become an official U.S. citizen. This gives me a sense of purpose in the community, and it is truly a blessing.
Immigration is one of hardest steps in any individual's life. Some research shows approximately one million people are granted lawful permanent residence in the U.S. each year. An immigrant puts all of his/her family, friends, possessions, and all they are familiar with in the rearview mirror, and with one or two suitcases, sets out for a new world that most often they know nothing about.
I was very lucky because from the beginning I was exposed to the beautiful and loving environment of the ESOL program at Vienna Presbyterian Church. Being part of the Vienna Presbyterian Church ESOL program did not just teach me English. It affected my life in many other positive ways. My self-confidence improved, my independence grew, and my spirits were lifted.

ESLIM's Accomplishments in 2018


Join us for a quick glance back at 2018.

  • Our member programs brought together more than 1360 adult learners and 430 volunteers per semester for English classes at 22 locations.  
  • We equipped 67 volunteer teachers with classroom strategies, techniques and activities during four training sessions. Participants praised trainer Lauren Lang's interactive approach and use of concrete examples. One person described Lauren as "energetic, inclusive, unintimidating and confirming: all of the things she is trying to teach."     
  • We fielded inquiries from 330 prospective students and 140 prospective volunteers, matching them with programs whenever possible.
Teaching Tip: Dictation Drawing

By Connie Hauer, ESLIM's Program Administrator

Activities are a great way to reinforce lessons and ensure that everyone engages actively in the learning process. Dictation drawing is an activity that works well for intermediate or advanced students.

Pair students. Give one student in each pair a picture that relates to a topic discussed in class previously and ask them to describe the picture to their partner, who will try to replicate the image without seeing the picture. For example, after discussing outdoor activities in our region, use a simple picture of a family enjoying a day at the park. This activity also works well after teaching prepositions of place, to check comprehension for words like "over," "under," "next to," "in front of," etc.


Do you have a favorite classroom activity to share? Please email

thankyou_paper_hdr.jpg all those who participated in our recent annual fund campaign. First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, Vienna Presbyterian Church, and The Vine at Graham Road for their generous support. Centreville United Methodist Church for hosting our spring teacher training.
Three Ways to Get Involved

1. Volunteer opportunities are available for the winter/spring semester! No teaching experience or foreign language skills are needed--just a willingness to share one morning, afternoon or evening a week, plus some time for lesson planning. Semesters typically last for 10 to 12 weeks. See our website for more information and submit a volunteer application form today.   

2. Did you know you can assist ESLIM just by shopping online? Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible AmazonSmile purchases when you shop at Simply search for "English as a Second Language and Immigrant Ministries" and select it as your charity.

3. Your donation to ESLIM helps us reach out to prospective students and train volunteer teachers. It also allows our member programs to spend more on essentials such as books and supplies. To donate via PayPal or find instructions for mailing a check, please visit our website.      

We promote and support the teaching of English to adult immigrants of all nationalities in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia and welcome their active participation in our community.

To support the efforts of our member churches, ESLIM handles a variety of tasks in a centralized way. Its activities include the following:
  • Advertising for, placing, and training volunteer teachers
  • Advertising the English classes in foreign-language media
  • Maintaining a voice mail line for inquiries from prospective students and volunteers
  • Producing the Speak Easy e-newsletter two or three times per year
  • Maintaining a website that features the class schedule, a variety of resources for teachers, instructions for making donations, and information for churches considering an ESL ministry
ESL & Immigrant Ministries | |