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Flushing Chamber of Commerce to launch English language classes for growing immigrant population

The new Flushing Chamber of Commerce is launching a program to address the growing demand for English language classes to help waves of new immigrants in the area who need help learning the language of their adopted country.

“Language is one of the major challenges facing our business community,” said Simon Gerson, co-chair of the chamber, “and we are proud to take a leadership role in addressing this issue.”

The program “English Now!” will begin in April with a 12-week semester. The classes are meant to bridge the gap for immigrants seeking jobs in the American market. While Flushing continues to expand as an economic powerhouse, many of the new residents and businesses are forced into isolation triggered by language barriers, according to the chamber’s spokesman. By teaching the newcomers English, the chamber hopes to integrate Flushing’s residents and businesses into the larger economy of Queens and the city.

Participants must commit to two six-hour classes per week. The class will be held in Monroe College, which is a member of the chamber. The college-level class will be offered for $40.

The chamber created the program in response to a new wave of immigrants who don’t speak English very well. The trend is being seen all across the state, according to the Center for an Urban Future, but funding for English as a second language classes, known as ESL, has lagged behind the explosive demand.

The number of state-funded ESL seats has declined by 32 percent over the last nine years, from approximately 86,000 seats in 2005 to 59,000 in 2013, according to the center.

“We feel there is a need within the immigrant communities of Queens for a quality ESL program geared to professionals seeking to advance their careers,” said Evan Jerome, senior vice president at Monroe College. “This program will be geared to students with an intermediate level of ESL to advance both their written and oral communication skills.”

Class topics will be geared toward students who want to become better at speaking English for the purpose of getting jobs.

The deadline for registration is Friday, March 20. Registration forms are available by calling 914-740-6614 or emailing queens@monroecollege.edu.

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