Groups help students master English

Imagine traveling and living in a foreign country or place, and not being able to speak or understand the language. Imagine the frustration at trying to ask for help with something.

ESL or English as a Second Language here at OCCC, is here to help, said Lydia Rucker, the ESL Conversation group leader.

Rucker said students and staff alike volunteer to help these students — native speakers and non-native speakers — experience different cultures.

The shared motto of the Communications Lab’s ESL Conversation Group is “No Fear” because fear is often what keeps students from accomplishing our goals, she said.

Yet, the idea of fear is found to be a common denominator between the native English speaker and those for whom English is their second or perhaps even third language, Rucker said.

“Our fear stems from our want to understand but our inability to do so; therefore, with anything that we don’t really understand or anything that makes us somewhat uncomfortable, we tend to avoid it,” she said.

“It is my theory that improving the self-esteem of ESL students through drama and peer support will not only help them build confidence, but also motivate them to speak English more often outside of school.”

Jason Palmrose, a Computer Science major said he wasn’t aware OCCC had an ESL group “I can definitely see this being useful for the exchange students as well as any foreigners attending the college,” Palmrose said. Rucker said the ESL group welcomes everyone.

“The group is also for those who are ages 18 and up and those who are in the community. Anyone can bring anyone.”

She said the conversation group focuses on helping students overcome the fear of speaking and writing in English.

“Through role play, poetry reading and activities focused on strengthening motivation, confidence and interpersonal bonds, members of the conversation groups are able to persist better within classes and overcome the fear of speaking to native English professors and peers,” Rucker said.

Computer Science major Justin Maggard said ESL is very beneficial to OCCC.

“It gives foreign speakers a place to be themselves without any fear of being judged or different,” he said. “I love how involved OCCC is with the students and the community with volunteering to make this group a place to look forward to going to.”

Rucker said the goal is to make students feel more comfortable in their environment while “strengthening their esteem about the English language, encouraging fluency and cultural awareness.”

These groups meet twice a week from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. Mondays and from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday. In addition, the Comm Lab teams with Student Life several times a month for larger discussions in Communications Lab 2 in the Visual and Performing Arts Center in room 146.

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