Myths about immigrants and the workforce

Did you know more than 40 million immigrants live in the United States? Not only is this the largest immigrant population in the world, it’s also the most diverse with almost every country represented. At HopeWorks, we interface with immigrants from more than 40 countries across the globe in our AESL (Adult English as a Second Language) Program as they work to better their English language skills, become United States citizens and grow their careers. However, there are several hurdles that keep our students from obtaining meaningful employment.

Immigrants often lack official certifications to work in their trained fields.

If you were to poll one of our AESL classes, you might be surprised to hear the previous occupations of our students – doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc. Because some students flee their countries, they often come without the essential paperwork and proof of certification. For others, the training they completed in their native country doesn’t translate to the United States. When you add the language barrier, it’s difficult for immigrants to complete the transition back to their previous roles regardless of their career training or experience.

Immigrants want to learn English and become U.S. citizens.

Part of what makes our AESL Program so special is our focus on teaching all aspects of American culture. Not only do our students learn to speak, write and read English, but they learn key phrases that help them go to the doctor, attend parent-teacher conferences and succeed in their job roles. They’re taught the tools necessary to pass their U.S. citizenship test and navigate other governmental processes in addition to cultural norms. Our goal is to help our students build confidence in themselves!

As Memphis’ and the United States’ immigrant populations continue to grow, we encourage you to open your arms to our neighbors as they work to create new lives for themselves. Together, we can instill hope into our community and throughout the world.

If you’re interested in getting involved with AESL by volunteering or know someone interested in signing up for
our program, please contact Nicole Kennell at