Lincoln Literacy bridges language barriers by offering English classes to local employers

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Lincoln Literacy has been working with employers around Lincoln for years, and Tuesday was no different.

The volunteer-driven nonprofit was teaching an English class at Garner Industries.

Garner takes advantage of a grant-funded program that offers English classes for those in need.

The program at Garner fits a wide range of people, including the over 35% of Garner’s workforce that is Vietnamese.

Lincoln Literacy is working to bridge language barriers, serving over 1,000 adults from 48 countries in the past year.

Even though Lincoln Literacy has only 25 staff members, it has over 150 tutors working to serve those people, thanks to its volunteers.

During this partnership, Garner Industries has seen over 80% of its workers improve on tests about words they would normally use during work hours.

A grant by the Greater Lincoln Workforce Development Board makes this possible.

“We develop a customized curriculum for each company, based on vocabulary and images,” said Bryan Seck, executive director of Lincoln Literacy. “One really cool thing we offer is all of our classes come with an app. Students can review the word in English – the photo and the word itself – to pronounce to practice in between classes.”

The idea is to provide a class during work hours to give employees a chance to improve their English skills and be promoted within the company.

“We tried some things before where we brought in interpreters and people to teach, but it didn’t really gel,” said Bob Williams, director of human resources at Garner. “We lost people pretty quick. We’ve had a lot of success with this. And at the end, they test them to make sure they’ve learned.”

Now on the third class in a little under a year, employees have said in a survey that they can better communicate with each other.

“I’m new here, working about one year,” Falah Awad said. “Some guys here have worked six years coming before me. I joined this class because I need more formation for the job.”

Being able to express and read about their job is the key, Lincoln Literacy said.

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