NEW ESL PROGRAM AT THE CENTER FOR ACADEMIC ENHANCEMENT
Amanda Hipwell, Peer Tutor
Holy Family’s mission statement reveals that the University “welcomes and cares for students, faculty, and staff as members of a diverse but interconnected family.” The “family” here at the University is growing increasingly diverse, and English may be a second, or even third language for many students. In an effort to respond to the growing ESL population here at the University, the Center for Academic Enhancement has created a program to address their needs. The Center recognizes that American-educated students for whom English is not their primary language may have gaps in their language development, which can pose challenges in academic writing. The Center’s goal is to help bridge these gaps and aid students in achieving academic success.
The planning process for the new ESL program began this past August, and the program itself was initiated in early November. It consists of assessments that will target areas where students may need improvement, while also determining their strengths. The tutors will work one-on-one with each student using a curriculum designed to meet individual needs. Self-paced tutorials are also included in the tutoring sessions. In addition, an educational enhancement support group is available to participants of the ESL program. “It is designed to provide learning strategies and to offer cross-cultural integration,” Valerie Hertz explained. Hertz, a graduate student in the counseling psychology program at Holy Family, is currently interning at the Center.
The ESL program is run by Angela Godshall, Director of the Center, and three ESL peer tutors: Sara Cashin, Marek Kowalski, and Piotr Kopinski. Sara Cashin is a sophomore majoring in English/secondary education with a minor in Spanish. She is also the Vice President of Fusion, a new multicultural club on campus. She has worked with ESL writers and speakers on numerous occasions, through both the Inn Dwelling Program, which is sponsored by the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, and St. Mary’s Parenting Resource Center in Langhorne. “Interacting with people of various cultures has strengthened my appreciation for languages and cultural diversity,” said Cashin.
Marek Kowalski and Piotr Kopinski are both freshmen majoring in biochemistry. They, themselves, are international students who arrived from Poland shortly before the start of the fall semester. Both students have been enjoying their time here in America. “I really like this country,” said Kowalski. “Although it is quite different from Europe, it is open for people of different cultures. People at [Holy Family] are really helpful for people of different cultures.” He feels that being a part of the ESL program will be challenging, but also rewarding, as he will be able to meet new people and further develop his own English language skills. He looks forward to working with students because he will be able to use what he knows to help others. “I was given a chance to come here to study at Holy Family,” he said, “and now I can do something for the University, and for the people, especially.”
Kopinski sees America as “a place of opportunities,” a place where he can grow and develop in various aspects of his life. Although he came here simply to receive a biochemistry degree, he has already gained a broader perspective on people in general, as well as on himself and his own abilities. “I think that the ESL program is a good way for students to develop language skills that are so crucial to the process of learning,” Kopinski stated. “Every foreigner needs a means to communicate.” He believes that the ESL program will not only help students academically, but also socially. “In general, it will make life easier [for ESL students],” he said.
This newly-developed ESL program is open to all students who
feel they may benefit from this educational experience. The
Center for Academic Enhancement is located on the second floor
of the University library and accepts both walk-ins and scheduled
appointments. Consider this opportunity one of the many
ways by which Holy Family University “welcomes and cares” for
its “diverse but interconnected family.”