English can be difficult, even for the native writer, let alone for those who grew up speaking a different language. Add to this the intimidation of a new country, distance from home, and often culture shock, and we may begin to understand what many English as a Second Language (ESL) students are forced to deal with on a daily basis. The writing center desires to assist those students whose first language is not English.
North Park's ESL Program
North Park accepts a large number of ESL and exchange students every year, all at varying levels of skill with English. Among these, many are enrolled in the ESL program. The writing center is open to working with ESL students, but not those enrolled in the English as a Second Language program. The danger in conferencing with students enrolled in the ESL program is that these students would be seeking help with papers that are meant to develop their skill with English. If we assist in any way, we risk doing their work for them or worse yet, undoing all that their ESL teacher has taught them. If an ESL student comes to the Writing Center, we make certain that the assignment they are working on is not part of the ESL program before we begin conferencing.
Other ESL Students
Those North Park ESL students who are not enrolled in the ESL program have either passed the classes or tested out, meaning that their English is advanced enough to enter mainstream English classes. These are the ESL students that the Writing Center works with through drop-in hours and/or Core Curriculum Courses. In fact, a good percentage of the students who utilize the Writing Center’s drop-in hours are ESL students.
-H. Nesler, Class of '05
Writing Center Resources
Several of our Writing Advisors specialize in working with ESL students. Stop by the Writing Center to find out when they are working.
Our shelves are full of dictionaries, style guides, thesauruses, vocabulary-building books, and writing textbooks that will be helpful for ESL students.
English Language Clinic
North Park's ESL program offers a one-credit course called ESL1000: English Language Clinic. Students struggling with ESL issues in the writing they do for their mainstream classes can register for ESL1000 with Melissa Pavlik, who has taught ESL 1020 (Writing), WRIT 1000, and NPD 1000-2000. In a series of one-on-one coaching sessions throughout the semester, students will apply strategies for improving their competency in specific problem areas. By the end of the semester, students will demonstrate improvement in the quality of academic writing they submit to the mainstream classes they are concurrently attending.
Purdue University's Guide for ESL Students
This page includes many useful handouts and resources for acclimating to U.S. colleges and universities and understanding writing conventions for global business and academic audiences. One of the resources even includes a helpful glossary of common academic terms.
Writing English as a Second Language, from The American Scholar
William Zinsser, speaking to new international students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, explains that good writing “depends on what country you’re from” and gives a brief history of the English language.