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Students in ESL courses at greater risk from cuts

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When enrollment begins, students can often select from an array of classes. However, for students who are taking English as a Second Language many options are limited.

California’s economic slump has forced many state universities and community colleges to reduce their classes. Professor Sandra Carter, who teaches ESL, said budget cuts would have the biggest impact on immigrant students.

“The budget cuts are serious for everyone, but ESL students will suffer the most,” Carter said. ESL students cannot take classes like science or history until they complete their ESL classes.

In the past programs, such as “Adult Education,” helped student’s who could not get into a college ESL class. But, along with ESL, it has been reduced for the last two years, said Carter.

Carter said ESL students would not be able to keep up with the curriculum if they can’t understand the language.These students cannot take another class because understanding English is essential to their success.

When ESL classes are cut, there is no other outlet option for these students.

“Cutting ESL classes refuses and denies immigrant students of their rights,” Carter said. “What’s even worse is that congressional leaders are the ones cutting these programs, yet they want immigrants to learn English.”

Many ESL students expressed the benefits of the courses.

“When I first came here, I didn’t speak good English,” said Janet Orozco, 25, a nutrition major. “I would not speak to people because I did not know the language.”

Orozco, who is from Mexico, has been attending Cosumnes River College for four years.

“I have taken ESL classes in reading, speaking and writing,” said Orozco.

Orozco said her experience in this country took some adjusting.

“It’s a lot different both culturally and environmentally,” Orozco said.

Much like Orozco, many ESL students have to overcome challenges of transitioning into a culture different from their own.

“It was not easy for me,” said Usman Ahmad, 25, an automotive major from Pakistan. “We don’t communicate the English language over there; we speak our own language.”

Ahmad credits ESL classes for helping him gain confidence in communicating with English speakers.

“I feel comfortable speaking with native speakers,” said Ahmad. “I can go outside and talk with people.”

Orozco and Ahmad agreed that the ESL classes have contributed to their growth.

“Before I would have my wife translate for me,” said Ahmad jokingly. “Now, I have a lot of confidence when I am taking with people.”

Both Orozco and Ahmad expressed their concerns over the budget cuts.

“People from all over the world come here,” said Orozco. “If we cut programs that are beneficial to immigrants it will be harder for us and them to assimilate.”

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Students in ESL courses at greater risk from cuts