English as a Second Language

This article is aimed to help the students who are freshman and have little knowledge about college system in America. And, believe me there are many, particularly among the new immigrants.

A few semesters ago, an Indian girl migrated here from some village in Punjab was having hard time registering for her classes. This was almost the end of registration. Most of the classes were filled out. Every time she wanted to select a course it was either full or was conflicting with other course that she already had. When I started to help, I really thought she was a freshman and it is normal to face such difficulties for her. After I finished, she told me that she had been here all day and that her parents must be worried for her. She being an Indian, I felt little close to her and also because I know the common fears of the Indian parents. I called her parents to inform them that she was okay and will be home soon. I left her with a note that she could come to me any time she needed help. 

At the end of the semester, she came to see me. I couldn't stop her sobbing. I got really nervous by the way I can't see kids crying - I see my kids in them. Anyway after a lot of deliberations, she calmed down a bit and told me she is afraid because she lost Nursing Program and her father would be very angry with her. His only focus was on seeing her become a Registered Nurse. The Nursing Program in our college requires a student to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 at a minimum. When I checked her transcripts I realized that Paramjit was not a freshman as I had presumed. This was her third semester. She had already taken biology twice, and had failed. Biology is a prerequisite for nursing course.

After probing into her previous records, I realized Paramjit is a very bright student. Her problem is not Biology. Her problem is English. Unfortunately, no one advised her that she needed to know English well in order for her to be able to understand any other course. It is sad but most counselors in colleges are not compassionate or caring, they are more business-like. 

In the U.S. anyone who comes from a non-English speaking background is given language course - English as a Second Language (ESL). These courses are good and they prepare the students to a college-level language and enable them to understand English well. It is therefore important for the students who are recent migrants to take this course. 

In the meantime, Paramjit's career was shelved for good because once a student has been dismissed from Nursing Program, there is no way she could get back into it. More disturbing part is that Paramjit could have done well, if someone had advised her to take English courses first. 

Once we are here in a new country it is our responsibility to know the on-going systems. We need to ask questions and try to learn more about the education system. I think it is also the responsibility of the parents to try to know everything that they could to be able to help their children. 


More by :  Meera Chowdhry

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