My career in teaching ESL in a higher education setting began at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, NY where I taught in the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP). Because the school practices open-enrollment, many incoming immigrant students lack proficient language skills to succeed in college-level academic courses. The CLIP program is a low cost, full time immersion program intended to support students while they pursue college-level courses. I designed my own theme-based curricula for courses using authentic texts to enhance students’ reading skills and the writing process to help students complete ten three-draft essays per term. LaGuardia is part of one of the largest public, urban university systems in the world, and students come from countless countries and socioeconomic backgrounds. Therefore, another integral part of the program was teaching life skills, such as how to navigate their lives in New York City and how to take advantage of the many resources available in a large university system. For final evaluations, students were asked to create eProtfolios using the Blackboard classroom management system. I collaborated with a team of teachers to implement this new technology in ESOL classes there. In April of 2008, I had the privilege of presenting and
discussing student work at the Making Connections Conference, a national conference hosted by LaGuardia focusing on ePortfolio usage in classrooms.
Currently, I teach ESL at Pratt Institute, a diverse arts university in Brooklyn, New York. My students range from undergraduate freshmen to first and second semester graduate students with a variety of majors. There are two distinct ESL programs at Pratt: the IEP (Intensive English Program) and the CEP (Certificate of English Proficiency). I teach in both, as well as in the School Liberal Arts and Sciences in a credit bearing English 101 equivalent for international students.
At Pratt, I’ve had the opportunity to hone my understanding of and response to unique student difficulties. These students, specifically IEP students, face a different set of challenges from CLIP students because they are able to take studio and design classes, but are unable to take content-based courses until they meet or exceed our program’s vigorous standards. Accordingly, the content I develop for these classes rigorously prepares students for their future in credit-bearing classes. A major hurdle for these specific students is developing their time management skills. Therefore, I encourage students to discuss issues they are having with their other classes and develop strategies to better handle difficult situations, especially those relating to time constraints.
Hunter College of the City University of New York