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ESL lab breakdown

English as a Second Language (ESL) lab is a space where non-English speaking individuals can come and learn English in a comfortable and welcoming environment. This Summer, we opened our own lab at our Indianapolis office. The lab is equipped with 20 computers and headsets, English & Spanish dictionaries, and educational posters. The lab is large, inviting, and colorfully decorated with country flags, posters, and welcoming messages. 

The idea and how it came to life

Over the years, we’ve employed many Spanish-speaking people. For those that do not speak English, the language barrier can be a significant drawback on a job site — specifically in the construction industry–to the point where it can land people in unsafe situations and limit the upward mobility of their career. We recognized how serious the need was for our employees to be able to communicate, whether they stay at NCW long-term or not. The safety of our employees is very important to us, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to learn English for easy communication not only on job sites, but in other situations as well.  Jordan Burger, our bilingual field support representative, articulated that the purpose of the lab “is to set the field employees up for success not only in the professional world but in their personal lives and their community.”

What happens in the lab

Our local, Indianapolis, field employees were selected based on the priority of their tenure with NCW. Employees who have worked with us for 10 years or more were given first choice to register. The remaining open positions were offered to all employees on a first-come first-served basis.

Our lab utilizes a national web-based platform as the mechanism for teaching English. This specific program has six levels with modules at each level. Modules can be completed at the participant’s desired pace, and at times involve live 1:1 instruction. There are different tracks that can be taken in the learning process that are specific to an industry. For those just beginning to learn English we always encourage the general English track as a foundation that they can build on later. More advanced speakers might choose a learning track with an industry focus. 

The lab is open weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7pm-9pm. Participants are required to come two times a week to learn in the lab, but they also have the ability to learn remotely outside of lab hours via mobile app.

The journey and future of the lab

We love seeing our participants learn and grow each day in their journey to make English their second language. Roberto Nava, a student in our ESL lab enjoys greeting his friends and expanding his knowledge of English and hopes “to learn a lot of grammar in English.” Another student, Samuel Leon, said, “I enjoy getting together with my coworkers in the lab.” He says, “[learning English] will help me get better opportunities.” Not only are these students learning from something we provide to them, but we are learning from them too. We love how much we learn each day about their different backgrounds and beautiful cultures that make them unique members of our NCW family. We are ultimately appreciative of these students’ willingness to adapt and learn so that we can send them towards a career opportunity knowing they have all the “tools” they need to succeed. We are excited to see all the good that comes from opening our first ever ESL Lab and hope to help educate as many individuals as possible!

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“Starting the ESL Lab has been such a wonderful experience. I am grateful we are able to provide our employees a resource that will help them succeed professionally and personally. We get to see firsthand how having access to learning a second language has such a huge impact on their lives.”

– Jordan Burger