it like for ESL students to study with more fluent
community colleges have very flexible entrance
requirements. As a result, students who are still
learning English can enroll in classes with native
speakers. Even ESL classes may mix students who
have great oral fluency with students whose spoken
English is still developing. Whats it like
for ESL students to take college-level classes with
more fluent English speakers? Heres what ESL
students from Orange Coast Community College
Ota, an international student from
studied English for almost nine years in Japan, but
when I arrived America I was surprised about how
poor my English speaking ability was. I had studied
English for so many years, but I didnt take
any special speaking lessons. So I was always
feeling nervous about hearing and speaking English,
and I was almost crying when I took the first ESL
Meeting people who have different
abilities and values enriched my life, and
mixing of students makes English study
were so many fluent speakers while I couldnt
even understand what teacher was talking about. My
grammar skill is quite good, and I always got first
grade in that writing class. But once teacher asked
me to mention my opinion, I felt very uncomfortable
and I said to myself, Oh, gosh! I am such a
please help me!! How come they
mix students like this?
I still feel uneasy about my listening and
speaking, I no longer think the mixing of ESL
students is wrong, rather it can be helpful to
English learners. Getting used to it is the only
one way we can learn the language. I made a lot of
friends in ESL class, and I often talked to them
about my country, life, future dreams and so on;
also we sometimes share the same feelings about how
English frustrates us or how hard it is to get used
to the U.S. Especially when we talk about homework,
I can help them in grammar things, meanwhile I can
practice my speaking. We can encourage each other.
was really my biggest help. Meeting people who have
different abilities and values enriched my life,
and mixing of students makes English study more
Yano, an international student from
is very difficult to say that is a good idea for
the college to mix students. It is positive for
students who have been here for a short time.
best possible chance to learn is that
teachers give an interesting topic to
students and have conversation.
the other hand, students who have been in the U.S.
for a long time must have a more negative idea. The
reason is most short-time students don't have
English experience as good as long-time students.
Therefore, if the class mixes both kinds of
students, short-time students might have a hard
time understanding the lesson.
long-time students might be bored. The best
possible chance to learn is that teachers give an
interesting topic to students and have
conversation. So long-time students teach English
to short-time students and then they learn English
Kryzpkouski, originally from
just immigrated when the last millennium died. I
barely could establish a communication with the
U.S. immigration officer who probably thought I
came from the caveman era.
class make up was not homogenous; however,
we interacted with each other really well.
I learned from my classmate about
had never studied English in my original country
Argentina. After a while trying to learn English by
myself, I enrolled in a community adult English
class. It wasnt any good because levels were
a year of studying the basic grammar, I decided to
study at O.C.C. The placement test showed that
unfortunately my English wasnt that good to
be placed in a high class. So I started with a low
group of students in the summer of 2001 after a
year of already studying in 4 different adult
schools with iniquitous result.
O.C.C., my English improved really fast for many
reasons. Students now were determined to go through
this learning process as fast as they could. Many
of them thought this process was a waste of time
because they were so focused on their majors.
most of them after a short time changed their
personal goal and wanted to be fluent in English.
The class make up was not homogenous; however, we
interacted with each other really well. I learned
from my classmates about different cultures. Also
it gave me opportunity to make really good friends.
biggest change come in my second semester at
college when I started taking normal classes with
native speakers. Nobody ever told me anything about
my broken English but I know I hurt many ears. When
I am in my English classes now I feel the same with
students who dont speak that well. That is
good because it makes me see the two sides of the
matter. Also, it makes me reflect about tolerance
and integration. How can we hope to be accepted if
we dont accept our peers?
Khuu, originally from Viet Nam
are many problems for ESL students to study English
in ESL classes, but there are many more puzzles for
them when they are in non-ESL classes.
ESL classes, the students are at the same
ESL level, so they can communicate
ESL classes, the students are at the same ESL
level, so they can communicate confidently. The
teachers know exactly how to teach them at that
participate level, so they can receive or
understand the lessons easily. They are not
embarrassed when they need any detail explained
from their teachers. They have the same goal: that
is, learning a second language. Even though
everything is new and different from their
cultures, they always try their best.
that, being in non-ESL classes, ESL students have
to face many more things. Being in classes with
other people who are native speakers or have been
in U.S. for many years may make them
Chen from Taiwan
ESL and non-ESL classes to study is very different
for foreign students. When foreign students take
ESL classes, they will feel more comfortable
because all classmates are from same situation and
teachers would know how to teach ESL students.
Every one is in same level and there are more
chances to practice English.
It is good to take non-ESL classes because
I can really learn the ways that native
people learn in the class and improve my
I have struggled with my non-ESL classes. Non-ESL
classes are regular classes. I have to study with
native-speaker Americans. When we have group
discussions, I feel shy to talk with people, but in
the ESL class, I dont care because I am here
to learn. When I take non-ESL class, I really can
learn more. It pushes me to study harder in order
to follow non-ESLs level. It is good to take
non-ESL class because I can really learn the ways
that native people learn in the class and improve
my English skills.
non-ESL class is a challenge for me. I have to pay
more attention and spend extra hours in my
homework, especially when I am working on my
report. I need to read many books that are not ESL
and write down my opinions. It is hard because I
have to think how to make my paper as perfect as
other students. Therefore, I need more time
to do it and sometimes I feel I am going crazy.
who teach in non-ESL class wont tell you
whats wrong with your paper and correct it
after we hand it in. The score is the only thing
that tells you if you do it well or not, but ESL
class will show you and improve your writing skills
and push you to do better next time.
Do, a recent immigrant to the U.S. from
an ESL student at Orange Coast College and this is
my second semester here. Im taking an
advanced writing class now. This class is the most
interesting I have ever taken.
can say I feel comfortable when I talk to
my classmates, even native speakers. I
dont know, but in my opinion English
is not difficult: one just needs
practicing and a little
of my classmates came to the U.S. less than three
years ago, but some students have been in the U.S.
many years. They are really smart. They speak and
write English fluently and always get good grades
in their test. Because of that, I have to work
I have chances to express my thinking and feeling
in English, I take it. Im such a talkative
person; Ill die if I have no one to talk to.
I have been here less than two years, but I can say
I feel comfortable when I talk to my classmates,
even native speakers. I dont know, but in my
opinion English is not difficult: one just needs
practicing and a little confidence.
international students like Japanese, Vietnamese,
and Korean told me that they had trouble speaking
and listening to English and they couldnt
understand their teachers lectures. I think I
know the reason: they didnt speak English
much and especially, they just hang out with people
who speak the same languages. It is such a bad way
for learning languages.
a Vietnamese, but I dont have many Vietnamese
friends and I dont like to hang out with
Vietnamese because my reason for coming here is not
having fun or fooling around, but learning and
studying. Thats why I feel comfortable when I
I have a Japanese roommate who has perfect English,
so I can learn a lot from her. English is the only
language which we can use to communicate, so each
of us has to use our best English to talk and this
is really helpful.
Sarkissian and Greg
comment on this project.
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