ESL Program

About the Current Session

  • Registration for the Fall 2017 session will be September  5 and 7 from 9 to 11 AM and 6:30 to 8:30 PM, with classes running from September 12 until November 16.
  • Registration cost is $20 for books. 
  • Classes meet on Tuesdays and Thursday from 9 AM to 11 AM or from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. 
  • Childcare is provided should you need it.

Program Summary

In 2003, our congregation became aware of the need for an ESL program to serve the residents of Eastern Sussex County. We spent that year securing funding, studying other successful ESL programs and building excitement for this ministry within our congregation. English classes began in January 2004 at the church, and over the years, have been supplemented at various times by health fair activities, seminars/workshops on immigration and taxes, workshops, as well as programs about vital community resources. In addition, the program has periodically offered pre-GED classes, citizenship classes, and basic computer classes. Individual students often receive help, as needed, with supplemental food, housing, solving utility issues, obtaining a driver license, immigration information and referrals for medical problems.

After starting with two teachers, a handful of church volunteers and 40 students, the program now averages 150 to 200 students a year. While the students represent over 20 countries, most use Spanish as their first language. Students are assisted by over 40 volunteer teachers who come from all backgrounds, e.g., teachers, doctors, nurses, and engineers. Most are now retired, and many do not have a teaching background. Learning levels are structured from beginner to advanced. At higher levels, writing and speech are emphasized. Some teachers provide extra tutoring and/or act as conversation partners. Prospective students are interviewed during registration periods to determine their placement level. The interview consists of a verbal and writing placement tests to determine the student’s current capability with English. The students are placed in one of four levels. They select the morning and/or evening sessions. . 

Child care is offered at no cost so that parents are able to attend classes. Our child care program provides a learning environment for the children. In addition, it provides a yearly book fair for children. 

The program is supported by the Church and funded by grants from the Arsht-Cannon Fund, Harry K. Foundation, Gannett Foundation and SoDel Cares, along with individual and local business donations.

Historical Highlights

January 2004 - the first ESL class was held with 45 students.

May 2004 - we celebrated our first graduates!

September 2004 - classes started with 50 students, 2 teachers and 20 mentors.

December 2006 - class size had swelled to 90 students representing 10 countries.

March 2009 - received an Arsht-Cannon Fund grant via the Delaware Community Foundation enabling the expansion of ESL classes and the offering of child care to students who might not otherwise be able to attend.

September 2009 – enrollment grew to 150 students attending one of two sessions (morning or evening) offered each week.

2009, 2010 - the Arsht-Cannon Fund (ACF) provided the Governor's Consortium on Hispanic Affairs grants. The ACF has provided annual funding for the ESL program ever since.

2010 - ten of our advanced ESL students were awarded tuition and book scholarships to Delaware Technical Community College.

2012, 2013 - the Harry K. Foundation provided funds for healthy snacks/meals for children participating in our child care program.

2016 - Received grants from the Gannett Foundation and SoDel Cares Foundation. 195 students and 55 children were registered; representing 21 countries.\

2017 - Received funds from Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Youth Philanthropy Board at the Delaware Community Foundation, and the Longwood Foundation

Program Administration

The program is administered by a program director and the Advisory Board. Other staff members include a bookkeeper, a program coordinator, and child care workers. Teachers, kitchen workers and all other personnel are volunteers.

The program would not be possible without the support of dozens of volunteers: teachers, kitchen/snack helpers, and mentors. Nor would it be possible without the continued support of the Lutheran Church of our Savior. We are especially grateful for the longtime support of the Arsht-Cannon Fund and continued support of the Harry K. Foundation.

If you are interested in volunteering for this ministry (office work, kitchen help, childcare, ESL classes, donation of food, etc), please contact the LCOS office at 302-227-3066, or by email at