Castleton State College is missing something that colleges across the country have. It’s a program that helps certain students become better students, but something a majority of Castleton students don’t need.
It’s an English as a Second Language Program, also know as ESL. The program helps foreign students who can’t speak English well with English grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Although there are few international students and faculty members at CSC,
according to Johan Acuna-Mimenez of Costa Rica, who teaches Spanish here, an ESL program at Castleton would be welcomed.
“When I was still a student at Ohio Northern University, I met so many international people from all over the world. Not every one of them spoke good English, but for people who didn’t speak English well, the ESL program certainly helped them.”
Argentina native Carolina Gazalo, who also teaches Spanish here and who taught Spanish in Argentina for five years before coming to CSC, said “It is different teaching here without international students around me.”
Jimenez also said that he was involved with an international group called World Student Organization while in college. He said he felt comfortable around international people.
He said he believes that having an ESL program as Castleton would attract more international students and bring more diversity into the college.
“I learned so much about different culture, but I also shared my culture and language with other international students and Americans. It was like a culture exchange,” he said.
ESL would not just help international people, it would bring people from outside the U.S. with different experiences to share with American students, he said.
So why hasn’t such a program been offered at CSC? Academic Dean Joe Mark said there are at least a couple of reasons.
“We haven’t had a need for ESL in the past,” Mark said, adding that it is also expensive to build an ESL program and to recruit international students, citing travel fees as an example.
“We’d also need a service that supports all the international students,” he said.
Maurice Ouimet, director of admissions, also cited the expense and the commitment needed to sustain an ESL program as reasons why it hasn’t happened – as well as the need to recruit students to make it worthwhile.
However, both Mark and Ouimet said there’s a chance for an ESL program in the not too distant future.
Mark said it might happen within the next two to three years.
“The college knows it’s very important,” Ouimet added. “It is a big thing for Castleton.