Some of the Afghan arrivals have had no exposure to English before arriving in the U.S., while others know “great conversational English,” says Aabye. One man was even embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps as a linguist.
Catholic Charities has registered 28 Afghan arrivals in A-B Tech’s English Language Acquisition program, says Amber Hollinger, the program’s coordinator. Lutheran Services Carolinas has 32 evacuees who tested into English language programs and many are starting classes this week, Collins says. The ELA program is free, and free child care is available through a partnership with the YWCA.
All classes are English immersion. The beginner classes teach the alphabet, pronunciation and letter blends. They move on to learn signage, numbers and colors, and “everyday language” that they might encounter related to their family or shopping. In the intermediate-level classes, students work on writing skills. Hollinger says the students often ask to learn more nuanced vocabulary for the workplace or communicating with their children’s teachers.
A-B Tech is offering in-person daytime and evening classes. The college is also loaning classroom space to Literacy Together, a literacy organization in Asheville, for tutoring. In total, some students are getting 15 hours of English instruction a week.