Thursday, May 11, 2006

A difficult situation

I just had a conversation with a student in which he told me that if I place him where he needs to be placed next fall, he will leave the ESL program and, therefore, the school. This is one of the times that I am really glad that we have strict TOEFL score requirements for leaving the ESL program and for moving from level to level within the program. The matter is really out of my hands, and I could honestly tell him that. But it was still difficult.

ESL students often have unrealistic expectaions. They think that if they can speak enough English to get by, they can do university level work in English. Forget the fact that, in the case of my students, they will be studying Philosophy when they leave ESL and forget the fact that I, as a native English speaker, barely managed to get a C in the one college philosophy course I took. I would never want to study Philosophy in Spanish although I speak and read and write it quite well!

This is the worst case of this I have had in several years, so I shouldn't complain. But it was a draining experience talking with the student and then passing the information on to my Academic Dean. Just another reason that I sometimes find myself dreading the end of the year!


Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your blog and it looks interesting.
I think "draining" is a good way to describe that sort of situation - I'm dreading the two "no's" I'm going to have to deliver (and explain) tomorrow to students who have asked to move up to the next level but aren't ready yet. It's tough.

Sean said...

It's amazing how many students will over-estimate as well as under-estimate thier ability. I feel for your situation.