Funded by Illinois Community College Board through Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Illinois Secretary of State, and Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition.

IAC is a unique community-based organization with an English as a Second Language program that addresses the needs of very low literacy adults. Classes are free of charge and taught in a quarter system.

IAC offers four levels of instruction from Beginner to Advanced Monday to Friday from 10am to 12pm. When registration is closed (typically one week after), “While You’re Waiting” classes exist to allow learners to attend class on Saturdays until the next quarter begins. Extra help such as one-on-one tutoring sessions also occurs on Saturdays. The levels correspond to the wide range of learners, from low-literacy adults who may have little or no education to people with advanced degrees from their home country yearning to perfect the American accent.

Students come to the program to learn English for a variety of reasons:

  • Job acquisition or promotion
  • The pursuit of higher educational opportunities
  • Accent reduction
  • To help their children with homework and school situations
  • To increase fluency and conversational capability with the wider community

Classes range in size from 10 to 15 students with instruction provided by paid staff or volunteers. Instructors hold years of teaching experience in the U.S. or abroad. A specialized workforce curriculum is incorporated into the intermediate ESL class once a week.

New initiatives are implemented as IAC strives for continuous improvement. Instructional quality is maintained with closed-enrollment classes and attendance policies. The curriculum is based upon a multi-level textbook series and enhanced with field trips to educational and entertaining sites in Chicago, a conversational club, workshops to enhance self-care twice a quarter, and 1:1 tutoring.

All learners enrolled in daily ESL classes participate in IAC’s Creating Options Needed Now Through English and Career Technology  (CONNECT) program. CONNECT was developed to create a technologically integrative classroom that help learners gain soft computer skills necessary for life in the United States through interactive ESL games and activities. CONNECT also helps learners approach language learning in another context. CONNECT occurs one hour a week in each class.

Open Tutoring

Learners on the waiting list or current students can participate in being matched up with a tutor between the hours of 10-2. This allows learners to focus on specific English grammar skills in a personalized setting.

“While You’re Waiting” Class

Special Saturday courses, for learners on the waiting list, are available to practice English in a fun, friendly, low-pressure environment.