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Search begins for new ESL coordinator

The former ESL coordinator left to become assistant dean for the Office of Student Life

The Office of the Dean of the College has launched a search committee to select a new English as a Second Language Coordinator in the Writing Center, said Douglas Brown, director of writing support programs in the Writing Center.

The search comes in the wake of former ESL Coordinator Ashley Ferranti’s move to the position of assistant dean in the Office of Student Life at the end of last semester, leaving vacant the post that oversees the Writing Center’s services for students whose native languages are not English.

While the position remains vacant, Ferranti has helped the center by coordinating this semester’s pre-orientation writing workshops for international students, Brown said. He added that the search committee hopes to find a permanent replacement by the end of this academic year.

The coordinator post has been vacant so far this semester, but ESL students said they were not concerned about a reduction in the University’s ESL assistance, saying other support systems have helped fill the void.

“In addition to the standard resources, they have a lot of other things to help these students,” said Deesha Misra ’14, president of the Brown International Organization. The International Mentoring Program — a partnership between the DOC office and students to provide academic support to international students — is one such additional resource, she said.

BRIO works to connect ESL students with peer mentors and hosts events and a lecture series, according to the MyGroups student organization website.

Many ESL students also join cultural groups upon entering the University, and these groups provide support for starting the process of writing and speaking in intensive classes taught in English, said BRIO Secretary Sama El-Saket ’15.

Some international students said they felt their peers —  rather than more formal support structures — were the best resource for ESL assistance.

“We’ve seen students come in through BRIO, and within six months, their English has improved,” El-Saket said. “It really comes down to the student to utilize these (programs) as much as they need to.”

“The best way to pick up a language is by speaking in it every day,” said Misra, who said she speaks six languages.

Though Misra said she was generally satisfied with the University’s resources for ESL students, she noted that there is potential for improvement through more collaboration among students.

“It could be nice to have a program where we could pair up a student whose second language is English but first language is Spanish, for example, so there could be a two-way exchange,” she said, adding that such an exchange would benefit both sides of the language divide.

In her time at the Writing Center, Ferranti produced a written record of ESL students’ needs and worked with faculty members to provide additional support to students struggling with writing, according to a Writing Center internal memo Brown provided to The Herald.

“When it comes to writing resources, Brown kills just about everyone,” Brown said. “There are huge resources for student support when it comes to writing.”


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