The Connection's ESL Program Yields Life-Changing Welcomes, Learnings

Kim and Bob, student and teacher, who formed a friendship through ESL Classes at The Connection in Summit.

SUMMIT, NJ - If you could change a life in just a couple hours a week, would you?

Kim and his family relocated from South Korea to New Jersey when he accepted a spot in Rutgers' School of Public Affairs and Administration degree program. They chose Summit, as many do, for its strong sense of community, proximity to New York City, and the opportunities for their children.  

While moving. especially internationally, is daunting enough, the thought of learning and integrating into a new culture layers on an added challenge. Understanding major things -- such as 'how society works' -- and seemingly minor things -- like conversational idioms -- poses a major hurdles for international students and newcomers to the United States.

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While speaking and writing in English were not stumbling blocks, Kim did feel inhibited in his classes and in business conversations, and sought out assistance to ease his transition.

Kim was drawn to The Connection's English as a Second Language (ESL) program, and began meeting with long-time volunteer and Connection member Bob who, along with his wife Lynn, a retired teacher, first saw the program in action while on the way to use the fitness center. Intrigued by this side of The Connection they had not known about previously, they eagerly became involved.

Over the weeks, Kim would share challenges, and he and Bob would work through solutions. If one were to pass by Bob and Kim meeting during their sessions, you might have assumed they were friends catching up before a workout. And over the course of a year, that is what they became.

The ESL program's small, friendly classes offer technical help to aid attendees in achieving their various goals, and all involved experience a truly supportive environment. Bob was not simply Kim's teacher, but his advocate, and epitomized the community one can find both at The Connection and in Summit.

The Connection has offered English as a Second Language classes in Summit since 1945 and, for the third year, The Summit Free Public Library has partnered with The Connection to offer their facilities and services in an effort to help educate and support the ESL students in the community. In addition to hosting eight ESL classes a week, the Summit Library has a large collection of books and compact disks for all library patrons learning English. The Library has many other services including computers for public use, WiFi, study rooms and more.

For those interested in changing a life by becoming a volunteer with The Connection’s ESL program, call Jane Walbridge at 908-273-4242, ext. 129 or contact No experience is needed, with ESL classes for Beginner through Advanced available starting September 11 and offered Mondays: 9 - 11a.m. and 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Tuesdays: 10 - 12 p.m., Wednesdays: 9 - 11 a.m., and Thursdays, 10 - 12 p.m.

The Connection is a non-profit, human service organization providing a variety of programs and activities open to everyone in the community regardless of physical ability or economic circumstance. For more information, visit




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