As the number of immigrants coming to central Kentucky grows, the demand for English lessons also increases. But, there are not enough instructors here who can teach English-as-a-Second-Language classes. Lexington’s Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Isabel Taylor says ‘the numbers’ tell a big part of the story. Taylor says data gathered from the Fayette County School System shows about 15 hundred non-English speaking children were enrolled in 2005. By last spring, she says that number had almost tripled.
Taylor says children are immersed in an English speaking environment. But, their parents have a much tougher time learning English.
“When you’re an adult and you’re trying to learn a language, you’re using that front part of your brain and it’s no longer automatic. You’re trying to retrieve vocabulary. You’re trying to listen with a language that’s already imprinted in your primitive part of your brain,” said Taylor.
Taylor says there is a huge waiting list for English as a second language classes. After Taylor laid out the problem to Lexington’s leaders, Mayor Jim Gray said they must find a way to meet the need.
“Not an insignificant amount of relevance is given to the diversity and to an international content in our cities that encourages this level of growth and productivity,” said Gray.
With a non-English speaking population of about 40-thosand residents, Taylor says there are too few language classes offered. She adds there’s a big need for instructors who can teach those classes.