City officials on Wednesday unveiled the newest season of its Emmy-winning, free English language learning program, We Speak NYC.
Previously known as We Are New York, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ We Speak NYC strives to help immigrant New Yorkers build language skills and familiarize themselves with city services. This second season features seven videos that will cover mental health, early childhood education and workers’ rights.
“Effective English learning programs like We Speak NYC open new doors for New Yorkers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Though we are a city that proudly speaks over 150 languages, many residents want to improve their English language skills, and we want to meet them with the tools to do it. Empowering immigrant communities with the skills and knowledge to take advantage of more opportunities is how we make the ultimate city of immigrants an even better place for all of our residents.”
Nearly 40 percent of city residents are foreign-born, and roughly 2 million residents have limited English proficiency, including the 1.5 million immigrant New Yorkers, the city said.
We Speak NYC is led by volunteer instructors who hold a semester of classes at city libraries, public schools and community organizations in all five boroughs. English language learners (ELLs) will develop an issue-focused vocabulary, practice conversational English and access city services.
In 2017, We Speak NYC trained 249 volunteer instructors, held 182 classes and taught 3,000 ELLs.
De Blasio’s administration invested more than $3 million into the launch of the seven We Speak NYC videos. City, state and federal funding totals $90 million for adult literacy programs, including programming for ELLs.
Additionally, the MOIA released an independent evaluation of how We Speak NYC’s benefits ELLs. The report found that participants had an increased ability to converse and a better understanding of spoken English. After the 10-session semester, 85 percent of participants said they were able to understand more important vocabulary.