2023 ESL student authors celebrated

Belmont UMC celebrated the writing and storytelling skills of more than a dozen English as a Second Language (ESL) students whose essays were chosen to be read aloud at the Belmont ESL Writes! event in April. This is the first time the program recognized the writers in an annual gathering since 2019, before the pandemic cancelled two years of class gatherings.

The students’ stories were selected to be read aloud by independent reviewers, volunteers read the essays to fellow students, church staff, community guests, and former students and teachers. These stories have been put into a booklet that can be read or downloaded at belmontumc.org/outreach/english-classes.

The Belmont ESL Volunteer of the Year Award for 2023 went to Patsy Lanigan, who assists in the classroom and goes out of her way to lift up ESL students.

Read or download the Belmont Writers Showcase Book 2023.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes at Belmont

A decades-long tradition continues at Belmont UMC when a new semester of ESL classes begins in January 2023. The program offers two levels of intermediate classes and one advanced class to students from across the globe.

ESL classes are held from 9:00am-12:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning January 10. In addition, a conversation class is held on Mondays at 10:30 a.m. There is a small registration fee, and students may also have a small fee for textbooks (Interchange textbooks).

ESL at Belmont typically follows the calendar for Metro Nashville public schools with a winter break in December/January and an extended summer break.

All students enrolling in Belmont’s ESL program are required to be fully vaccinated and up-to-date with the most current booster for COVID.

For more information on ESL at Belmont, contact us by email at ESLinfo@belmontumc.org.

ESL History at Belmont

More than 50 years ago, Nashvillians saw a need to offer English classes for the city’s growing immigrant community. Belmont UMC opened its doors then and has enthusiastically supported the adult ESL program since. It provides space for classes and supports the program, and several of the volunteer teachers and classroom aides are members of Belmont UMC.

During the pandemic, classes continued remotely via Zoom, and some classes offered a hybrid Zoom and in-person format until 2022 when in-person classes resumed in the fall. Enrollment is around 50 for the 2022-2023 school year.

Multiple languages and cultures are represented by the student body, a fact that makes for rich discussions and learning opportunities. Some classes sponsor field trips to Nashville landmarks like the Public Library downtown or Fort Negley Civil war site.

Classes focus on English language learning through conversation, writing, and speaking with a strong emphasis on grammar and learning American culture. Multiple students have used Belmont ESL classes as a springboard for more advanced English classes, the pursuit of higher education, or a foundation for a GED.

Each semester, students begin classes as strangers with diverse backgrounds and languages but end the time together as friends.


ESL writers finish booklet

Belmont English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the Level 5 class of Jane DuBose and Dick Bowers recently shared stories and photos of their hometowns. The work has been assembled into the ESL_Level5_HometownStories booklet. The stories describe hometowns from students and teachers encompassing four continents and multiple childhood experiences.

The ESL program is back again this semester through a combination of in-person, online, and hybrid classes taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Volunteers teach English language, culture, current events, and more. Beginning classes are led by Christy Perkey and intermediate classes by Mary Jane Duke. A separate conversation ESL group meets Tuesdays under the leadership of Sally Tiven.


ESL Level 5 students participate in a cooking lesson in the spring of 2021.


2019-2020 Belmont ESL program off to a strong start

by Jane DuBose

More than 100 students registered for the English as a Second Language

(ESL) program hosted by Belmont UMC on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The students’ home countries represent dozens of places, from Burkino Faso to Venezuela, and Japan to Haiti.

Belmont UMC’s ESL program relies on small student fees and reserves to finance its operations. Teachers, many of whom are Belmont UMC members, volunteer their time in the six classrooms, and several other volunteers do conversational coaching, work as aides, and substitute in the classes.

The program provides instruction on a listen/speak/read/write design for learners ranging from beginners to experienced conversationalists. The total immersion provides a chance for students not only to learn English culture, but for the instructors and fellow students to learn about the world.

For more information about ESL at Belmont — which is celebrating its 50th year — email ESLinfo@belmontumc.org with your name and contact information.

About Belmont ESL

Nearly forty years ago, a small group of Nashvillians saw a need to offer English classes for the city’s growing immigrant community. Belmont United Methodist Church opened its doors then and has enthusiastically supported the adult English as a Second Language program ever since, generously providing space for classes and support for hundreds of English language learners.

Prior to 2013, Belmont’s ESL program was funded by a federal government agency. When funding ended, the members of Belmont UMC chose to continue the ESL classes as an outreach of the church.

Over 100 students from over 35 countries eagerly meet to study English and learn American culture.

Learning English changes people’s lives. Over the years, many students have gone on to get their GEDs, pursue higher education, get better jobs and receive their US citizenship. More importantly, students become friends with people from other lands and other faiths, and, in the process, discover that we are all much more alike than we are different.


Students published in national newspaper

In December 2018, Margarita Monterroso and Laetitia Jacquemet, both students in the Level 5 class taught by Ellamarie Parkison and Dick Bowers, submitted articles to the “News for You” newspaper. Their articles were published and appear below.

Our Nation’s Biggest Challenges

“News for You” readers wrote about our nation’s biggest challenges. They wrote about helping each other, global warming, and jobs.

It’s a new year, and soon we will have a new president. We asked News for You readers to write about what they think is our nation’s biggest challenge. Here’s what a few of our readers had to say.

Helping Each Other

Do not judge people you do not know. Every person has talents. Give them opportunity to show the different things they can do. Help them make this world great and different. God makes people with different talents, colors, and races. The world needs differences.

I like to compare people as if they were a big salad in which everyone needs everyone else. Salads need different kinds of lettuce and different kinds of fruits to taste good. If the world doesn’t have different people, it is not our world. Some can be architects, doctors, teachers, or farmers. We all need each other.

Please give opportunity to every person to become a part of our society. Help them get an education that will open their minds so they don’t worry about color, race, or where they come from. May God bless you and help you open your mind about how you think about people.

Margarita Monterroso, Guatemala
Belmont ESL, Nashville, Tennessee

Ecology and Global Warming

When you speak of global warming, there are two categories of people. Some are skeptical, but others believe in it. Ninety-seven percent of climatology researchers think that global warming is real and worrying.

Donald Trump, the U.S. president-elect, is a climate skeptic. He doesn’t believe in global warming and its consequences. During his campaign, he called it a hoax.

The big powers of our world meet together regularly to find common solutions to preserve our planet. Agreements have been signed. But Trump says he wants out from the agreements that were signed by the USA and others. The agreements commit countries to be responsible for the survival of our planet. For example, the USA is responsible for 15 percent of the global carbon dioxide gas emissions.

For me, global warming is the biggest challenge of the coming years. That is because it concerns not only the American people, but people like me who come from different parts of the world. Doing something about global warming is a common responsibility because our planet belongs to all of us.

Laetitia Jacquemet, Switzerland
Belmont ESL, Nashville, Tennessee

Belmont Writer’s Showcase 2016

On April 28, these students told their stories at Belmont UMC’s annual ESL Writer’s Showcase event. It was a time to encourage, recognize, and celebrate Nashville’s multicultural population.

Click here to see more photos from the event on our Facebook page. Photos by Nicho Young

Levels One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Conversational

Classes are held from September through May.

Belmont ESL is a multi-level ESL program offering five classes from beginning to advanced.

Students are assessed at registration to determine correct placement. We work hard to make sure that students are placed in the best level for their speaking and writing abilities.

Curriculum used includes Ventures, New Interchange, Azar English Grammar, Oxford Picture Dictionary.

Belmont English News

Belmont ESL videos get “two thumbs up!”

Seen any good movies this summer? Here’s your chance not only to catch some heart-warming stories with an international flair but also to learn a little about some of our ESL students who attend Belmont’s ESL program from September to May. Several students have spent time this summer working with WNPT/Next Door Neighbors Storytellers director Shawn Anfinson. The students recorded their stories and then were loaned an iPad to create videos, download pictures, and create a short documentary.

Among many other stories, you can hear about Margarita’s home country of Guatemala, where opportunities for personal and financial growth were limited. Here in the USA, she and her husband are painting a different picture for themselves. You’ll meet hardworking Mariano who loves it here in Nashville. He is now learning English to help him adjust to life in America.

See these and more at www.wnpt.org/storytellers.