Partner Highlight: Structure for Successful ESOL Programming

Intercambio member organization Blue Mountain Action Council shares how they discovered and incorporated Intercambio's curriculum and methods into their programming.

An important strategy in achieving Intercambio’s mission of creating more cross-cultural connection through English language learning is to share our curriculum, trainings, and methodologies with partner organizations. Offering a range of engagement levels, organizations have the flexibility to acquire materials outright or opt for deeper involvement through a paid membership model, enabling them to access continuous support and training. This ensures their success as they integrate our resources and curricula seamlessly into their adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programming.

Intercambio Network member organization Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) is a community action agency located in Walla Walla, Washington. BMAC’s mission is to collaborate with partner entities to equitably deliver services and support to neighbors experiencing poverty, to build stable and thriving communities. BMAC has been providing services to Walla Walla, Columbia, and Garfield counties since 1966, and in 1994 added an adult literacy program that matches adult learners with one-on-one volunteer tutors.

Barbara Maxwell, Community Education & Engagement Director of BMAC, recently shared her journey of discovering and incorporating Intercambio into her work.

When Barbara joined BMAC, there was no program curriculum in place. Each tutor utilized different resources, sometimes creating their own. It was clear that ensuring consistent and continual learning would be very challenging, and accurately measuring or scaling impact would be impossible.

Through the generosity of a local mini-grant, she purchased the Intercambio curriculum in 2022. A BMAC volunteer had used Intercambio in a previous volunteer program and a colleague in Washington State was using Intercambio in their program. Both gave Intercambio high marks.

“Intercambio’s online tutor training and the vast number of resources available to the tutors has been incredibly useful. Every time I receive an Intercambio email highlighting a resource, I immediately forward it to our tutors.

I’ve been surprised by how easy it is for the tutors to use the materials from day one with their student. What really pleased me was the built-in assessments—we finally have a way to know if our students are making progress in learning to speak English.”

Barbara Maxwell, Community Education & Engagement Director of BMAC

BMAC’s ESOL programming needed structure, which the Intercambio curriculum provides. They also needed to consistently train their tutors and to assess student learning, which Intercambio also provides. BMAC joined the Intercambio Network to test its utility and found that it is an important part of supporting both their tutors and their students.

“I invite all ESL tutors to a group meeting 2-3 times a year so they can discuss the Intercambio curriculum, teaching ideas, and materials. Having them all using the same program makes these meetings a lively exchange and everyone leaves having learned something new from another tutor,” Barbara shared.

With currently over 100 member organizations nationwide that provide adult English language classes, The Intercambio Network helps programs improve effectiveness, access, and relationships. Members learn from one another, celebrate successes, and share challenges. Join today!

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