Port Washington Public Library Offers Free Citizenship Classes Through ESOL Department

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Antonia Puquir (Left) graduating from a PWPL ESOL class. She is pictured beside her daughter (Center) and her tutor, Ellen Schaier (Right). (Contributed photo)

Since 2005, the Port Washington Public Library’s ESOL Department (English for Speakers of Other Languages) has offered free citizenship classes for immigrants who live or work in Port Washington. More than 75 students have graduated from PWPL citizenship classes to become naturalized citizens of the United States.
Recently, the classes have moved from a strictly virtual setting (due to COVID-19 safety measures) to a hybrid environment allowing participants to learn either within the library or via a virtual setting on Zoom. The classes are offered weekdays and evenings and typically contain less than ten students from all different countries of origin. Throughout the semester, tutors work with students on U.S. History and Civics, interview preparation and practice and an in-depth knowledge of the citizenship process. While the class schedule runs from mid January to June and September to December, students are welcome to remain in the class longer if they need more time to prepare for the test.
The United States Naturalization test contains two parts with four subsections. The first component involves a civics test where the applicant is required to answer 10 out of 100 questions on American Government, American History and Integrated Civics (i.e. Geography, Holidays, Symbols). The second part is an English test where applicants must pass an oral speaking test, a reading vocabulary test and a writing test where they prove their competency in the language. In the words of ESOL Coordinator Peggy O’Hanlon, “Becoming a citizen is so meaningful to our students. Seeing people like Nana working so hard and passing the test makes me feel so lucky to have this job.”
Allison Breidbart White, an ESOL tutor at the Library who specializes in the Naturalization Process stated, “Helping students prepare for the Citizenship test is very rewarding for me and meaningful for them. Since so many students are passing the test, there’s always room for new students.”
To sign up for the free class, email ESOL@PWPL.org or call 516-883-4400 x1308.
—Submitted by the Port Washington Public Library

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