Montana News

Feb 7, 2013 8:34 PM by MTN News - Bozeman

West Yellowstone offers English classes for Hispanics

WEST YELLOWSTONE - The town of West Yellowstone, population 1,271, and is home to one of the highest percentage of Hispanic people in the state.

Over 20% of its residents are Hispanic and Library Director Bruce McPherson says the language barrier was preventing the Hispanic community from interacting and therefore excelling at their jobs.

"Most of them were invisible, so we decided to run some English language courses for those folks," said McPherson.

The adults were motivated, for not only work-related reasons.

"They said, 'We want to read to our kids,' and my poor old liberal heart just melted," said McPherson.

With the help from West Yellowstone's Spanish teacher, McPherson started adult language courses in January 2012. Then, he had another idea.

"I started thinking about the kids, coming from Spanish households they need to speak English in order to be prepared for kindergarten," said McPherson.

Back in October 2012, he began pre-kindergarten English classes. The classes immediately filled with Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.

McPherson says it is his goal to expand the classes to the Gallatin Valley area.

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