Prisoners Teaching ESL: A Learning Community among "Language Partners"

Andrea Olinger, Hugh Bishop, Jose Cabrales, Rebecca Ginsburg, Joseph Mapp, Orlando Mayorga, Erick Nava, Elfego Nunez, Otilio Rosas, Andre Slater, LuAnn Sorenson, Jim Sosnowski, Agustin Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article features Language Partners, an ESL program offered at the Danville Correctional Center, a medium-security men's prison in central Illinois. The program in which prisoners teach ESL classes, supported by volunteer teacher-trainers, is a learning community with immense and sometimes unforeseen value. The authors discuss reasons for teachers (and learners) to participate in the program, and they illustrate the remarkably collaborative nature of the teaching and learning. They then reveal the unexpected benefits of Language Partners, namely, its effect on relationships with family members and on perceived stereotypes of prisoners. They conclude by reflecting on the program's challenges and accomplishments and consider implications for its wider adoption. (Contains 2 figures and 1 note.)
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalTeaching English in the Two-Year College
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • Correctional Institutions
  • Criminals
  • Prosocial Behavior
  • English (Second Language)
  • Second Language Instruction
  • Volunteers
  • Trainers
  • Limited English Speaking
  • Tutoring
  • Tutors
  • Tutor Training
  • Community Colleges
  • Individual Development
  • Experience
  • Transformative Learning


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