The One with the ESL Class

This familiar scene from Joey, a spinoff of the popular sitcom F·R·I·E·N·D·S, depicts Joey Tribbiani wandering into a beginners English as a Second Language (ESL) class to talk to a woman. He initially shows off his English speaking capabilities to impress her but is eventually schooled as he uses the wrong tense in his grammar, even though he is a native English speaker. Many questions arose when I first watched this. What is the role of ESL courses nowadays? What are the primary benefits from having this program?

ESL classes are often an underrated and underrepresented resources available to students in school. My parents immigrated from India but at two different times. My mother came when she was a very young child but my father did not arrive until he was about high school age. Whenever he talks about coming to America and his life in high school, he usually touches on the same few big aspects of it, one of them being ESL classes. My dad is a native speaker in both Hindi and Gujarati but he hardly knew English when starting school. This began his process of learning this completely new language.

Angelo State University has started a new program that centers around teaching English to students that speak another language, particularly those in Asia. This is beneficial for many different reasons. Immigrants have made this country what it is today and this comes with a blend of various languages. As the population in Asian countries is rapidly increasing, this becomes even more pertinent to our lives. Particularly, if a student is in the business field, this can be very helpful for both parties when conducting meetings and phone calls.

The English language is deteriorating. Between slang, text talk, and acronyms, we are forgetting how to properly speak. I believe this effort to increase the education of non-native speakers in English is a very commendable effort. Just as from the video clip, Joey, born and raised in America, uses the incorrect tense for a rather simple sentence. I have encountered this in my own life as well, that those who did not learn English as their first language tend to have better grammar than those of us who were born here.

For one, the English as a Second Language program is expanding and gaining further recognition in the world and education system. I can only see this as a benefit as immigration is becoming such a popular topic of conversation especially with the recent election. Not only furthering their English speaking capabilities, this program educates these students to take what they learn and send this knowledge with them to another country. How does that old saying go?

“Sometimes students make the best teachers”

Well certainly so given the guidelines of this program. I believe this program will soon snowball as they may only be educating a few teachers right now, but as they bring this knowledge and program around the world, I fully believe it to expand.

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