Guest commentary: Promoting English for academic purposes at Edison State

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Promoting English for Academic Purposes at Edison State

I have joined the Division of College and Career Readiness at Edison State College with a passion for giving immigrant students a voice.

As a native of Haiti, I have been advocating on behalf of and serving English for Academic Purposes (EAP) students for many years.

With the continuous influx of immigrants to the United States, the need to educate our immigrant population has become absolute and imperative. Many immigrants travel to this country because they want an education. The need is strong. The rising number of culturally diverse students in American classrooms is expected to continue for the next several decades.

Immigrant students are feeling welcomed and cared for at Edison State College. Currently Edison State College is serving 69 English for Academic Purposes (EAP) students on the Collier campus and 171 in Fort Myers. These students, who represent the United States and 23 countries, are eager to learn and transition from EAP to college-level classes. They face many challenges, including adapting to a new culture; having difficulty learning a second or third language; and finding a new career.

The college provides academic and personal transition services to students for whom English is not the home or native language. In the Developmental Studies Lab, staffed by professional instructional assistants, EAP students receive testing, orientation and assistance with writing, grammar, reading and listening skills. I provide additional coaching, for example, facilitating a session called Conversation Café, offered twice a week. It gives EAP and mainstream students the opportunity to discuss general ideas and practice speaking English, a luxury not afforded to many immigrants in their home setting.

The success stories from Edison State College's EAP program are numerous. Here are some from EAP alumni:

Jean Claude Sime, originally from Haiti:

"The most valuable skills I have learned are listening and reading. It was extremely difficult for me to hear what others were saying or reading aloud. I learned from the EAP program at Edison State College. I encourage other foreign students to experience the EAP program before entering their major."

Louis I. Honore, originally from Haiti:

"I immigrated to the United States in April of 2004. My goal was to go back to school although I had two bachelor's degrees in my home country ... now hold a MSW (Masters of Social Work) from the University of Houston. I encourage and advise anyone who comes from an outside country or whose English is not their maternal language to sign up for EAP classes. It is one of the best ways to gain success in the United States education system."

From Maria Torres Perez, originally from Cuba:

"I started as an EAP student at Edison College in the fall of 2006, and, since I was new to the country and to the language, I was happy to find out that my EAP classmates had a similar background as I did. I benefited tremendously from my EAP courses at Edison since they taught me how to write, how to read, how to pronounce and how to communicate in English."

I would like to establish a partnership with the community at large and invite successful non-English speakers and others who can motivate and inspire the students. Some of these students come to this country with humble beginnings and would also benefit from textbook donations every semester.

There is tremendous opportunity for immigrants to succeed in higher education in Southwest Florida and join its highly skilled workforce. For more information, I can be contacted at 239- 433-8009.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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