Over the past two years, the International Language Institute in partnership with Valley Community Development has been at the forefront of financial and business education for speakers of other languages through our innovative Small Business Fundamentals for ESOL curriculum. Generously supported by a grant Valley received through Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, the program successfully completed its fifth cohort this month, bringing our total to 42 graduates, including 29 from ILI’s Free English Program for Refugees and Immigrants. Prospective participants might inquire, ‘How do I manage business finances in the US?’ or ‘What are the best accounting practices for small business owners?’ These questions highlight the critical need for our specialized curriculum, which is structured in accessible language and in a format for speakers of other languages.

A group of graduates holding their certificates and smiling.

Comprehensive Learning for Real-World Application

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The curriculum, written under the supervision of Samira Artur (ILI) and  Sarah Sargent (Valley CDC), was piloted at ILI in early 2022. In the fall of that same year, the curriculum was revised and taught on site at Valley Community Development, led by ILI’s ESOL instructor Geordie Morse and Valley Community Development’s Small Business Advisor Eyad Salha. Participants explored key aspects of financial literacy and business operations. Our curriculum covers everything from basic business concepts and the legalities of U.S. business ownership to accounting principles and effective marketing strategies. This comprehensive approach addresses crucial questions for non-native English speakers, such as ‘How can I create a business plan?’ and ‘What are the essential legal requirements for running a business in the U.S.?’ By focusing on these areas, we prepare participants to overcome the challenges of business ownership in the U.S., ensuring they are equipped for both personal and professional success.

Feedback and Outcomes

The impact of our program is clearly reflected in the feedback from our participants: 

I learned how to start and run a business in the U.S. It is completely different and (more) complicated than in my country. I learned a lot of useful things.

The instructors are both professionals. Geordie always provides good examples and explains new words well. Eyad always tries to explain business nuances in an accessible language.

I really liked this course. I learned a lot of new details about opening and doing business in the U.S. And also it is a very good opportunity to learn new words from the business sphere.

I strongly advise all new residents of the country to be sure to take this course, to understand more how everything works here, because the U.S. is a country of private business.

I recommend ILI students if they want to open a business, that they take business classes to know the necessary basics.

While many students in ILI’s free English program for immigrants and refugees have taken advantage of the Small Business Fundamentals for ESOL classes, this program is open to anyone whose first language is not English and is interested in acquiring a foundation to start a business, or to grow an established business. 

Join ILI’s community by  signing up for our newsletter and be the first to know when the next cohort starts!

A group of smiling graduates holding their certificates with their instructors.

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