Reporter: Will Quillian
Oregon Coast CC
High intermediate – Advanced
Four students from the psychology 237 (Lifespan development) had a project to interview a particular group of people from a certain demographic so they decided to interview ESL students. For the assignment they were to create their own questions and interview this group and in this case this concerned the ESL Ss experiences in this new country/culture. The format was a group discussion where different ESL Ss took turns answering different questions on a volunteer basis. The psych Ss videotaped the discussion.
Questions asked were:
· Where are you from?
· How long have you been in the US?
· Do you have children that were born in the US?
o If so, do you notice a difference in their language development compared to your own?
· How have ESL classes helped you with language and integration into US culture?
· Do ESL classes help you to be less timid outside of class when dealing with native speakers?
· Before you came to the US, did you consider the challenge of learning the language and integrating into US culture?
· Has English been easier or more difficult to learn than you thought it would be?
· Do you feel excluded from US culture and the native-borne population?
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go when the psych Ss approached me with the idea but it turned out very well. The ESL Ss were very open and willing to answer the questions very candidly and they gave some very insightful answers.
The most interesting responses were that none of them considered the difficulty of the language before coming and all said that the difficulty of English has been a major shock. Also, the only thing they thought about before coming to the US was the good things they had heard and they didn’t anticipate life being so difficult in the US.
I think this experience had a couple important benefits for the ESL Ss. It seemed very cathartic for them to be able to vent some of their frustrations about living in the US to native-borne people who were only there to listen and not judge. It was also good for them to see native-borne people take an interest in their lives and the struggles they have to go through living in the US. It was also obviously a great language exercise with authentic conversation with native speakers. Additionally, it was a good way to get more cross communication and involvement between credit Ss and ESL Ss. It was also helpful for me to learn more about my Ss lives and gain more insights into what they are dealing with in their everyday lives.
I recommend contacting credit instructors at your institution and letting them know that there are opportunities for inter-departmental interaction and that your ESL Ss are a great resource for the college. In the past I have also had advanced ESL Ss go to the psych classes to be interviewed by the Ss there. Once again, this is a great opportunity for the ESL Ss to see and know their worth to the college as a whole.