Open Doors English provides affordable, comprehensive English classes, to empower students to live fuller lives, and to build richer community connections.

Julie Rudd Coulombe was a lifelong ESL teacher in Ithaca and an advocate for people learning English. She became fluent in Thai while an exchange student in Thailand, and in Spanish while teaching in Ecuador. Her masters in Adult Education gave her lots of ideas for teaching that she shared freely while she was the Coordinator of the BOCES Adult ESL Program. Julie remembered everyone’s name, both in the ESL program and going back to her first years of teaching! She loved to sing and laugh and sew and garden. Many people lived with her family over the years, and she made all of us feel that we were members of her family. Julie died in March 2019, and the teachers here (at Open Doors English: The Julie Rudd Coulombe Language Program) miss her deeply.

Our name “Open Doors English” comes from a story that Julie told often. A student many years ago told her that living in Ithaca without knowing English is like living in a house with windows but no doors. You can see out, but you cannot go out and participate in life outside your house. We want you to know English that opens doors for you.

In February 2020, Julie was posthumously awarded the Debra S. Newman Service Award, and was recognized in this way for her lifetime of service and work for our international community. Julie's family, friends, and colleagues are pictured to the left, attending the awards ceremony, and celebrating Julie's impact.

Why study with us?

At Open Doors English, you can:

  • Join a community of international friends
  • Gain confidence in communicating in everyday situations (for shopping, medical appointments, educational activities, socializing, etc.)
  • Increase your understanding of American culture, politics, and current events
  • Learn communication/language skills for current and future jobs
  • Pursue your American High School Equivalency Diploma
  • Strengthen your English skills for applying to higher education (undergraduate and graduate degrees)
  • Improve your grammar and pronunciation
  • Connect to people, organizations, and events in the Ithaca area
  • Have fun while learning!

A Unique Approach

Teachers at Open Doors English use a wide variety of methods in their teaching, especially those related to Communicative Language Teaching. Lessons are active and dynamic. We incorporate reading, writing, listening, speaking, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar from the beginner through the advanced level, with a focus on both accuracy and fluency. Students have the chance to receive feedback about their language production, and to practice using English every day through guided conversations, role plays, and field trips.

Open Doors English is a fiscally sponsored project of the Center for Transformative Action (CTA). CTA, an educational 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is legally and financially responsible for all our project activities.