Orange County expands its free ESOL pilot program for I-Drive employees | Orlando Area News | Orlando

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Courtesy Image/ Orange County Government

Following the graduation of the trial class, IMA Medical Group and Paramount Hospitality join the ESOL Program for I-Drive employees.

The Orange County Government has expanded its ESOL for Working Adults pilot program, offering language courses to even more employees.

The English Program for Workers in the I-Drive Corridor (EPIC) program now provides onsite educational instruction at IMA Medical Group and Paramount Hospitality Management.

The expanded program, which launched June 12, will provide instruction in ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) over the next eight weeks. IMA Medical Group and Paramount Hospitality Management join the inaugural employer, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, to provide space, time, support and pay for participating employees.

“I’m pleased that IMA and Paramount are jumping on board, as this allows us to understand different opportunities within our I-Drive community,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in a release.

The pilot program will help Orange County collect data to design and implement a successful ESOL program going forward.

EPIC was born in 2022, when Orange County’s I-Drive Community Redevelopment Act Advisory Group sought a solution to low employment rates following COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in the tourism industry.

The CRA invested in English language education programs that allow employees to not have to choose between working and learning a new language.

Through a series of three cycles (the third starting this June), classes are taught by UCF Global instructors, who are fluent in Spanish, Kreyòl and English. The first cycle began late last year, the second in January and the third this June

According to Jennifer Haddad, M.Ed., Program Director, UCF Global Engagement, nearly 64% of the participants in this pilot program indicated better work opportunities as a main interest in the program.

The first round of student graduated earlier this month, with research indicating that participants made significant gains in listening, grammar, vocabulary, reading and speaking, Orange County reports.

With this new chapter of the program, Orange County and partners aim to continue bolstering the growth and success of its I-Drive students. 

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