Southwestern From the Eyes of An ESL Student

Imaculada Alfredo

Imaculada Alfredo

Few days remain in the semester, and it’s time for ESL students to receive their diplomas. Another hard semester has passed and all hope to finish strong.

The ESL Program at Southwestern started in the 1960s under the name CELL, meaning Center for English Language Learning. In 1990, the program was restructured and today it offers students the opportunity to study English before continuing or starting other academic programs or careers.

Imaculada Alfredo has been in ESL for one semester and she describes her full experience with one word: “scary.” She was scared of the fact that she knew no one in the classroom and she couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. As she started the program, she was required to take the placement test, which placed her at level 1.

Learning a new language is a perfect mix of happiness as well as frustration. You’re happy because you are learning to communicate, able to create new relationships with people from all over the world and then you discover how magical language is.

“I get frustrated because sometimes all I want to do is write in English, but I simply can’t,” says Alfredo. She faces a different struggle everyday, but never loses hope.

Arriving here in the U.S. has made her gain independence. She can do, as she desires, while back at home she was almost treated like a baby.

“I was afraid to go out alone, but now I can even order a Subway,” Alfredo says.

Every Monday through Thursday, Alfredo looks forward to the 10 a.m. worship service in Evans Hall.

“Coming to Southwestern made me closer to Christ and I thank Him for that,” says Alfredo, smiling. She enjoys listening to devotions by Monica Kowarsch, director of ESL, and has had the opportunity to pray in front of her classmates. Learning English may be hard for some, but she enjoys discovering every little word and conjugating verbs she never knew existed.

She feels that coming to Southwestern to learn English was the best choice she could have made. It brought her closer to Christ and she was able to learn lots of new American habits and culture.

“Even though English is hard, if a sentence doesn’t come out the way you want, if your pronunciation is not good, keep trying because we can all do it,” Alfredo says. She looks forward to learning what Level 2 has to offer her.

The ESL completion ceremony is tonight in the Wharton Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

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