Chattanooga ESL instructor offers free class, helping hundreds learn English

For 14 years, Betsy Chesney has spent her Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Chattanooga Public Library teaching a free ESL class. (Image:WTVC)

A free class in Chattanooga has helped hundreds of people from more than 30 countries master the English language.

In this week's Pay It Forward, Jessica Harthorn surprised the instructor who has spent more than a decade of her life making strangers feel more at home in our community.

Betsy Chesney says her ESL students are so brave, learning English as an adult is tough!

So she says its her mission to help them grapple with all of its idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies, helping them to feel more independent.

For 14 years, Betsy Chesney has spent her Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Chattanooga Public Library.

She surrounds herself with men and women across the globe now living in the Scenic City eager to learn the English language.

"She's just a very giving lady, she's very generous with her time," said Librarian Assistant Susan Kemp.

Kemp has gotten to know Betsy well over the years and she had a huge smile on her face as she interrupted her ESL class that's FREE for everyone.

"Put out your hand Betsy," surprised Susan.

"What in the world!" said Betsy.

"Newschannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm are Paying It Forward to you, for all the help you've given these people over the years. Hold out your hand 100, 200, 300, 400, $500," said Susan.

"Stop! Too much! Are they real? Wow!" said Betsy.

Betsy's student Nina is from Russia. She says she's learned so much from her class. "She is a great teacher. She is a friend," said Nina.

Betsy tells us her class is similar to a little United Nations.

"Whatever differences we have in age, religion, background, language, whatever, we came in her for a common goal," said Betsy.

A common goal, to appreciate language and all its layers.

In fact, Betsy says her students have inspired her to learn French.

"It makes me feel great, it's euphoric. I've been saying for a long time that I've been paid handsomely to teach this class. Just not in dollars, until today!" said Betsy.

Do you know someone who deserves $500 cash for helping others? Nominate them here.

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