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July 10, 2019

Unlocking the English language and learning how to weld at the same time sounds like an unlikely fusion. However, three women and seven men from all corners of the world – Algeria, Somalia, Dominican Republic, Chile, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico – have bonded.

A collaboration between JCCC’s Adult Education, Continuing Education, Foundation and Workforce Partnership provided a group of international students an opportunity to become proficient in English, earn valuable welding certificates and find jobs in this in-demand field.

“They were all eager to learn and did extremely well,” said John Littleton, Continuing Education Program Director. “The entire team at JCCC is behind each student’s success. We look forward to learning about their continued success.”

As part of the class, Littleton arranged a visit to a local manufacturing firm that employs welders in a variety of roles. Students saw welders in action and how their work supported the overall manufacturing process. Employers also visited the ESL welding classroom to talk about qualifications and skills sought in welders. 

Students also applied their skills in practical ways. They constructed two steel smokers, one of which was donated to JCCC’s Culinary Arts program.

Friendships fuse

To say that the class gelled would be an understatement, said Linda Turbyfill, ESL Instructor.

There was nothing easy about this coursework. The schedule, the content and the expectations of engagement were rigorous.

“I placed a high priority on communications, relationship building and trust,” Turbyfill said.

All in a day’s work

Monday through Thursday, class time alternated between practicing basic language skills along with welding vocabulary, and learning welding techniques and safety. The students also learned civics lessons. 

When the last day of class arrived, all 10 students had completed the requirements to earn JCCC certificates in MIG Welding, Layout and Fabrication.

“All of the teachers and staff involved are so proud of these students,” said Janice Blansit, Program Director of Johnson County Adult Education.

Finding funds

Changing regulations call for English language learners to train for technical careers while still learning English. JCAE interviewed ESL students to assess their interests, worked with CE to develop a special welding class to meet their unique needs, then approached Workforce Partnership for assistance. As a result, eight Kansas students had their full tuition costs covered by Workforce. Generous donors and creative planning with the JCCC Foundation provided funds for two Missouri residents.

Future possibilities

If you’re ready for a career with red hot possibilities, check out our welding program.

Need to polish your English? Register for ESL courses and you’ll be fluent in no time!

For more information, call 913-469-7621.