Skip to main content

ELI-custodial-courseA group of Facilities Services workers are getting an opportunity to sharpen their English skills thanks to a free program offered by the English Language Institute.

The class, which began in January, meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Four faculty from ELI volunteered to teach the class on a rotating basis, and about nine facilities staffers, all of whom speak English as a second language, have stuck with the course. The final class of the semester is Friday, April 25.

Both the ELI and Facilities Services saw a need for this type of class, but neither knew where to begin.

Jim Hamrick, director of ELI, recalls a custodian in his building who wanted to improve her English-speaking skills by enrolling in one of the institute’s intensive classes. But according to Hamrick, the class—which meets daily and costs more than $1,000 for a semester—wouldn’t have been appropriate for her needs or her budget.

“I talked this over with our faculty, and they agreed that this might be an area in which ELI could make a contribution to UT,” Hamrick said.

Meanwhile, Abby Aberdeen, training specialist in Facilities Services, was supervising a group of facilities workers—nearly half of which spoke English as a second language.

“It was tough, but, we communicated and built a good working relationship,” Aberdeen said. “But I knew there had to be a way for us as a university to assist these people who wanted to learn English.”

The like-minded pair met in August 2013 and developed a class that would meet the workers’ desires to improve their English speaking, listening, and reading skills at minimal cost and at a time they could manage.

The ELI hopes to continue the course as long as it has participants willing to learn.

Established in 1978, the ELI provides non-native English speakers with the academic abilities, language and study skills, and cultural understanding essential for academic, professional, or personal success. For more information, visit the institute’s website.

C O N T A C T :

Jim Hamrick (865-974-3404,

Christine Copelan (865-974-2225,