By Jose Guillen
Discovering the power of speaking English through the eyes of international students, the ESL Cafe is a language lab where students can experience the power of language. Communication is one of the most coveted skills in the free-market.
Elans have a language lab on campus to take full advantage of all its benefits. In order to participate, you must be a student at East Los Angeles College.
No other requirement is requested only the desire to help fellow international classmates practice their conversational English skills. Students must ask at the front desk for the ESL Cafe.
There is a sign-in sheet that keep logistics as to who is attending the meeting, but it’s more of a meet-and-greet scene. It can look awkward or at times sound a little bit off. Once the conversation begins, the students’ desire to help their partner through the verbal gymnastics of speaking a foreign language to them but English to us sparks up. Yangok Chu is the facilitator of the ESL Cafe.
Right away she puts her calming influence to work. Her welcoming, easy going manner keeps the group moving through the conversations. Students are paired up with someone in the group to help attendants further their skill set.
The conversations can be as short as a minute or as long as five minutes depends how long the two students can keep the conversation going. Jason Ye, a business management major and also an ESL Cafe member, said he has benefited tremendously by this club.
He is a soft spoken student who has shied away from connecting with classmates yet joining the club has made him eager to learn and speak English. “It has help 100 percent. I feel more confident to speak. Coming has allowed me to not be fearful,” said Ye, student attendee.
Ye said it was a struggle for him to speak up in the past. He would avoid speaking in his classes out of fear that others would not understand him when he spoke English. He would not respond to a professor’s question out of fear of ridicule.
This limited his learning and participation. Now, after a year and a half of being in the ESL Cafe, Ye enjoys participating in his classes, sharing his opinions and enthusiasm for learning. The ESL Cafe is located on the first floor of the E-3 building.
The lab is a resource for all enrolled ELAC students who want to better their language-learning skills. Those who are thinking of studying or traveling abroad can go into the ESL Cafe to use the language-building software.
“I tell everyone to come. Come to learn how to pronounce, it’s the reason why, I come to the group,” Maria Hernandez, ESL Cafe student attendee, said A welcoming environment, was on full display at the ESL Cafe.
Everyone present, while shy at first, listened attentively to everyone when their turn to speak. No one, despite their shyness and apprehension was left out. Everyone got a chance to participate during the role-playing exercises.
“Learning to speak a language foreign to us can have a fundamental difference in how we carry ourselves publicly. Understanding the difference between catch-up versus ketchup is monumental to an ESL student. It’s the difference between feeling confident to speak or embarrassingly painful under the shame one can feel,” said Yagnok Chu, Facilitator.
For those interested in participating or attending, visit E3 room 170 for a particular practice on specific days and times.
ESL Pronunciation Practice takes place on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. The French pronunciation practice is on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The ESL Cafe on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m.