Professor knows best
English is my fifth language and I’ve often wondered what it would be like to take English 101 class in my first year of college. Now I know, and I wish I didn’t. My trouble began when my high school teacher told me to take an ELL (English Language learner) class because I am still not comfortable speaking to people. But I took a chance and decided to face the challenge instead of stepping back and wasting my time. I took an English 101 class at a liberal arts college with other native English speaker students. You might wonder, why go that far? Well for one, it fulfills the GUR (General University requirement) which the school require for every college student to take before graduating. Second, it is better to do it earlier than later. Third, professors are more friendly toward you, when you need help.
As a person and college student who knows five languages and must take English 101 classes; it is heart breaking that the university doesn’t acknowledge the complexity that English might not be a student’s first language. Why should you care? That might be a question you ask someone who experiences the harsh path, not to yourself. To understand their pain, you must put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t have the English language as their first language and pretend you are the non-native English speaker. I have had the feeling of giving up many times, learning another language hasn’t been easy for me. But worse of all, the liberal arts university I am currently attending puts English 101 as part of the GUR. The thing that extinguishes all my excitement, is that I am forced to take it. It gives me fear, and I feel like a hopeless human. Or sometimes it makes think of myself as a useless, worthless woman who knows nothing about her surroundings and the culture.
It’s better to take English 101 in your freshman year, rather than later in your sophomore or junior years. Although the college might put students into English 101 class right away, there are some English 101 classes that are offered in a smaller size. A benefit for the first-year student is that a student can take a FIG class (Freshman Interest Groups). The FIG courses offer classes in smaller groups of students, with two courses fulfilling the GUR and one fulfills the elective credits. I am doing a FIG class, so my English 101 class size is much smaller than the “regular” class. In my class, we have more student-professor interaction happening and students in class interact with each other more often than in the “regular” class. So, it’s better to take it earlier than later, because students are not able to take a FIG class in sophomore year of college.
Lastly, non-native English speakers struggle to understand the lecture or the assignment. Throughout this course, I struggled a lot with the assignment of writing a podcast. Students got to choose their own research topic relating somehow to school. Then, do research and use Audacity to bring the recording together. Looking at my classmates’ facial expressions, it seems to be their best take away from this class. While my classmates came up with creative ideas and started writing their script right away, but my script was a nightmare. I am sitting in front row wearing a blank facial expression and lost in thought, asking myself, what topic should I do, huh…, a topic of culture seems to be easy to understand, so I should choose that topic but relating to school work. That’s why I was always lost in class, because unlike others, I translate English into the Chin-Tedim language to check if I truly understand it. Yet, I still manage to get everything done on time, because I went to my professor’s office and asked questions and got clarification on where I was confused. There are other ways to get help, like going to a tutoring center and asking a friend/classmate to help out. But I prefer to go to my professor, who knows best.