ESL program being trimmed

Carmen Larios could barely speak English when she came to this country from México. She married and began to live in Modesto but had trouble communicating with her husband. He spoke only English.

She realized it was going to be difficult to speak to many of those around here if she didn't learn English.

"If you're in this country, you have to speak English to get a better job, to make a doctor's appointment and basically to do anything else," Larios said.

Her English is a lot better these days after attending English as a

El Concilio offices in downtown Modesto. But she says she still has more to learn.

The classes scheduled in the morning three days a week allowed Larios, 54, to attend without missing work in the afternoon at a Modesto retirement home.

But she won't be going to those classes in the near future because Modesto City Schools is cutting its funding of the program as it struggles with a $24 million budget shortfall.

The ESL classes will continue at El Concilio, but they will be scheduled in the evenings.

The classes will be taught by a credentialed volunteer who can work only in the evenings, said Yamilet Valladolid, site director for El Concilio, Council for the Spanish Speaking.