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Language Learning Tools with Open Doors English

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Immigrants each have unique stories about their experiences to tell, but not necessarily, the spaces to share those stories. There is no place where Open Doors English (ODE) students can express themselves and communicate their stories and experiences regarding their journey to and in America. Our project is to help Open Doors English, a non-profit organization that provides ESL (English as a Second Language) courses at multiple levels to provide the immigrant students they work with that space to tell their stories, while helping them gain English Language skills, with a focus on writing. 

There was no place where Open Doors English students can express themselves, and communicate their stories and experiences about their journey to and in the United States. The final project is a public website on the Open Doors English site where students can share their stories, thoughts, and perspectives about their experiences in the US. The stories are intended for an audience of other students, teachers, or any visitors who are interested in ODE or in immigrant stories.

We collected stories and essays written by students and conducting interviews of the students at ODE, and also helping students with the drafting and editing process. Once the stories were finalized, we compiled and organized the stories, and created a new webpage to showcase all of this work. 

We worked with ODE to determined a set of questions that would help immigrants think about what it means to feel at “home,” or what home means to them. Some of this questions were , “What did you find difficult about moving to the U.S., to a new culture, and language?” and “What goals do you have for your time in the U.S.?” We used this set of questions to guide the students’ writing and the interviews we conducted with them. 

The practical purpose of the space we built was to help students practice their English writing abilities. However, we also hoped that the space would empower the students to present themselves positively and to be proud of their immigrant stories. We hope the space will also help the teachers at Open Doors English as well as visitors to the website to understand the students and their unique perspectives more intimately.

Check out the Open Doors English Student Stories webpage. You can also read more here about this project