We envision a vibrant community where people of all cultures feel welcome and can participate effectively.
The mission of Downtown Languages (DTL) is to increase opportunities for immigrants and build respect and understanding across cultures by providing language, literacy, and other educational programs.
What We Do
DTL is dedicated to developing language, life skills, and cultural competence in the various communities of Lane County. We work extensively with low-income, disadvantaged families.
We offer a range of free and low-cost educational programs for adult immigrants and their families. Our core programs are basic English as a second language (ESL); U.S. citizenship and civics; bilingual computer skills; Oregon Driver License (ODL) test preparation; and literacy/adult basic education in Spanish, which includes the Plaza Comunitaria, a program in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate that allows Mexican students to earn their primary and secondary diplomas from Mexico while they reside in the United States, and GED Readiness, a preparatory course to help students obtain their GED.
Our courses specifically address the gaps that the school districts and community colleges cannot or are ill-suited to address. These gaps occur as a result of specific circumstances that affect our students, including diverse levels of literacy and lack of familiarity with any sort of educational system. We charge modest fees for our adult ESL, citizenship, ODL test preparation, and bilingual computer programs. Our literacy/adult basic education program is free.
In addition to our core programs, we offer outreach and seasonal programs: the Pilas Family Literacy Program, a free literacy program for Spanish-speaking families offered twice a year by DTL together with our community partners; and Pasos al Futuro (in collaboration with LCC and Puertas Abiertas), a free youth career-transitioning and leadership summer program for Hispanic youths ages 16-21.
Our student population is highly multicultural. In any given session, we have over 10 nationalities represented. We serve people from China, Vietnam, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and many countries in Central and South America. Seventy percent (70%) of our students are of Latino origins. We serve a wide range of ages in our different programs, from 3 months of age to 75 years. Of our adult student population, 60-65% are females. The average age range of our adult population is 35-45. Seventeen percent (17%) of our students are children (0-18 years).
Our work makes a direct, positive impact on the lives of the people we serve, many of whom are among the most economically disadvantaged in Lane County and have very low levels of English proficiency. Since 2004, we have helped improve the language skills, economic outlook, school readiness, and lives of more than 10,500 adults and children.
DTL strives to be an ambassador in our community. By providing educational opportunities for immigrants, hosting cultural events for the entire community, and partnering with other local organizations, we aim to build respect, understanding, and friendship, and contribute to the health and well-being of all.
— Suliman from Saudi Arabia, ESL 2