With an increasing number of foreign middle and high school students entering the country, universities have to revamp their English to Speakers of Second Languages (ESOL) programs to better suit the students within their programs.
“ESOL instructors are put in a position where they have to wear many hats,” says Adam Schwartz, an assistant professor of foreign language and ESOL education at the University of South Florida. “They have to comprehend languages across multiple levels as well as accommodate different ESOL students and their needs.”
Every student has had different exposure to English so every student’s experience within the ESOL program is unique.
“The idea behind ESOL is to utilize English as the language of instruction to reach out to any and all language groups,” says Dustin De Felice, a visiting ESOL faculty member at USF. “We accomplish this feat by modifying our instruction to make it accessible to a student from any language background or ability.”
With such a broad spectrum of circumstances faced by ESOL instructors, USF goes to great lengths to prepare its students for the challenges they will face with ESOL certification.
“Students in these courses are given preparation in language acquisition theories, research in bilingual and dual language programs, development in strategies, techniques, methods and approaches specifically tied to particular grades, ages, abilities and content areas and experience in working with English language learners through in-class and out-of-class projects,” De Felice added.
Not all students receiving an ESOL education enjoy the program or the instructors they work with, but many still see the positive effects.
“I hated going to ESOL in high school; the instructor was frustrating and was always asking questions about every detail of my daily life,” says Maria Parra, a medical student here at USF who moved from Columbia while in high school. “ It wasn’t till after high school that I realized that the things I learned while working with ESOL have also helped me to be a better student here at USF.”
ESOL departments may be complex and require more flexibility than a normal teacher’s curriculum, but the goal is to facilitate learning long after middle and high school.