By Ian Perrotta
Living in a foreign country is rarely easy, and not speaking the language can make it harder. Fortunately for Hamtramck, a new academy is slated to open soon that will help immigrants transition and flourish as American citizens.
Tentatively scheduled to open in April on Jos. Campau, the Sisler English Language Skills Academy (SELSA) will offer courses on US citizenship, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to people of all nationalities and some vocational training. The brainchild of Hamtramck resident Roger Sisler, the project has received support from members of the community and even Sen. Debbie Stabenow has shown interest.
It all began three years ago, when Sisler, a retired cultural anthropology professor, was asked by his neighbor to help teach the man’s wife English. Not satisfied with the available options, Sisler set himself to the task of creating a comprehensive curriculum that would allow even non-English speakers a chance to learn the language – something he feels can help improve a person’s overall well-being.
“Hopefully, the courses will not only help with putting people to work,” he says, “but with their personal happiness as well. Many times when it comes to issues related to social services, if you don’t speak the language you cannot get help.”
Sisler is no stranger to creating new schools and helping to direct them. A pioneer of the charter school movement, he was instrumental in bringing the first vocational charter school to Romulus and served on its board of directors for a number of years.
That experience, as well as a stint as the President of the Southern Junior College in Huntsville, Alabama and teaching positions at numerous other colleges, has given him the necessary knowledge to see the endeavor through.
That knowledge includes having a realistic business plan and a comprehensive curriculum. SELSA will offer four levels of ESL classes – Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Business – and its US citizenship class should give its students everything they need to pass the US Citizenship Exam. The eight-week, 144-hour ESL courses will cost $995 and the two-week, 40-hour citizenship course will $495. Vocational courses will be added soon.
If you would like to know more about the Sisler English Language Skills Academy contact Roger Sisler at firstname.lastname@example.org.