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; 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 for students to later enroll in GED classes in Spanish at Lane Community College or at the University of Oregon.
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, 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 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. Each year, our programs serve approximately 800 individuals, and the demand is increasing. Since 2004, we have helped improve the language skills, economic outlook, and lives of nearly 6,000 individuals and their families.
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.
“DTL is a good class. They help me to speak English. and teacher explains very good anything I want. Thanks so much.”
— Suliman from Saudi Arabia, ESL 2