Free English classes at Olive-Harvey College

Afi Akuele Hounkpati came to the United States in 2018 from Togo at the age of 20. With French as her native language, her first order of business was to learn English – which she’s done very quickly.

“A friend who was taking college classes at Olive-Harvey told me they had free English classes, and it wasn’t far from where I live,” she said.

In a year, she had advanced enough to be a good fit for City Colleges’ new hybrid English class, which is half in the classroom and half online. That’s helpful for Afi, who works full-time at a casino.

“I’m learning so much – not just English, but my computer skills have really improved and I’m learning a lot about everyday life in the United States that I didn’t know before,” she said.

Of course, taking classes and working full-time isn’t without its challenges; the English computer keyboard is different than the French one, and working night shifts makes it hard to get to class sometimes. But she’s persevering, and says “sometimes I’m so tired, but I try my best to get all the work done.”

So far, she likes living in Chicago and has met friends in her ESL classes – even another student from Togo. Once she’s conquered English, she plans to continue on to college classes – she had studied one year at a university in Togo before she came here – and plans to become a nurse.