Who We Are

Our Mission:

La Semilla - The Seed is a 501c3 non-profit educational institution which started out focusing on the socioeconomic and educational needs of the Latino community. 


Our guiding philosophy is that education opens all doors to success in life. We are an all-volunteer organization devoted to providing a quality education to adult learners of English and Spanish. 

We cultivate success!

Since our founding in 2007, our services have become well established and widely known throughout the metropolitan area and beyond.


How we got started:

In 2007, Reverend Oscar Ramos Gallardo and his wife Reverend Juanita Ramos came to New Orleans from Indiana as Methodist missionaries to minister to the needs of the burgeoning Latino community following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.


Many issues needed attention, including

Members of the Congress of Day Laborers at a march in New Orleans
Construction workers rebuilding the city of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina
Press conference to support Jose Torres in sanctuary at First Grace UMC

And so La Semilla was born, modeled after a similar program instituted by our Founders at their previous pastorship in Indiana. 

The school opened the doors to its first campus with the generous support of First Grace United Methodist Church which was undergoing its own unique, post-Katrina transformation.

Level three students during our closing ceremony in 2010

PLEASE NOTE: For reasons related to the "covid pandemic", since December 2020 classes have been meeting in public spaces; and in March 2020 La Semilla-The seed adopted the English conversation group "ESL Speakeasy" which was formerly sponsored by the Rosa F Keller branch of the New Orleans Public Library.  Additionally, in November 2023, La Semilla-The Seed became no longer affiliated with its former home and sponsor, First Grace United UMC and is now a totally independent teaching facility. 

Our Teaching Phiosophy and Method

In our school, we believe learning a new language should be very much like learning one's first language, so we begin at the beginning: with the sounds and associations with simple, ordinary objects and experiences. We encourage beginners to listen without being pressured to produce any words, and we use teaching aids and acting out scenarios to demonstrate meanings much like parents do with their young children. 

In this way, complex concepts such as grammar are introduced in appropriate contexts of actual usage, unlike traditional methods that begin with teaching grammatical  "rules". We believe that since language is first and foremost used for communication, learning to speak should be the most important focus, while reading and writing are introduced gradually, in the context of conversations. 

At La Semilla-The Seed, everyone is treated with caring and patience and as family, since after all, we are all indeed part of the human family. Our teachers are all volunteers and are happy to help our students learn in their own way and at their own pace. And our number one rule is: HAVE FUN! Learning a new language should be without stress and a comfortable, enjoyable experience, like at home with those we love and who love us!

Our teaching philosophy was inspired by the work and theories of linguist Stephen D Krashen and educator Tracy D Terrell as explained in their handbook The Natural Approach - Language Acquisition in the Classroom (link to download pdf).  Watch Stephen Krashen present his approach here:

The Latino community of New Orleans Post-Katrina

The Congress of Day Laborers meet at First Grace UMC

An interview with our founder Oscar Ramos Gallardo on National Public Radio (NPR)

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We welcome anyone who is learning English or Spanish.