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CU to offer free ESL classes

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By Lizia Oliveira

Again this year, Campbellsville University's Department of English as a Second Language will offer free "ESL in the community" classes for international individuals in this and surrounding communities in need of gaining or improving their English language skills.

The program has begun, but there is continuing open enrollment. Meetings are on CU's campus in Winters Dining Hall in side room D from 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The courses will continue through the spring semester and into the summer months.

The classes are for both intermediate and beginning levels of English instruction and are taught by CU trained ESL instructors. Susan Walters, coordinator of the project, said it has been successful because, besides improving the student's English skills, it also helps in giving them more confidence.

"I can clearly see the difference in confidence levels," she said. "When they first came here, they were used to asking their children to speak for them. And now, after having the chance to speak to each other and build relationships, they have gained confidence because English is the common language between them.

"'The ESL in the community' usually has from 15 to 20 students in class from several different countries. It seeks to provide the students with a basis in English structure and to prepare them for acting in 'real-life situations,'" Walters said.

"The program is very useful because most of the students are working mothers and have to be out in the community doing all kinds of things," said Andrea Burnett, residence hall director of Stapp Hall who is one of the instructors.

Etsuko Marusawa is one of the attendees of the program. She is from Japan and has lived in Kentucky for two and a half years. She said the classes give her a chance to communicate with other people.

"I really enjoy it because I can improve my speaking. I already understand a lot so this is my chance to talk, which was always really hard for me. These classes are really helpful," Marusawa said.

Saori Hirata, also from Japan, has lived in Kentucky for four years and endorses her classmate's opinion.

"It's very interesting. Usually we talk only to other Japanese. When we come here, we can speak to many other people," she said.

This year's instructors for the program are Burnett and Christie Bagley, both from the Campbellsville University ESL Endorsement Program.

Bagley said the program could be useful to any international person living in the community.

"Usually they stay a lot with their own people and do not interact with others," she said.

"Here, they have this opportunity to practice because the only way to communicate between all these different cultures is in English."

For more information, contact Walters at 465-4954.

- Lizia Oilveira is a student news writer at Campbellsville University.