Over the past seven weeks, students in the College of Professional and Continuing Studies’ Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) program have been diligently working on their English proficiency while learning the ins and outs of life in America.
Tuesday morning, a few of them put their newly acquired skills to the test during a poster presentation, “Discovering American Culture Through Photojournalism.” Representing both CESL’s academic and community English programs, six students from as far away as Mexico, Syria, Spain, China, Colombia and Saudi Arabia highlighted some of their favorite American experiences through stories and photos.
Chinese student Luxi Wu moved to Norman with her husband less than a year ago. She enrolled in CESL’s Community English Program in hopes of learning to speak English more fluently.
She said she’s met new friends in the program and learned a little about American culture. One of her favorite experiences was a trip to the Cleveland County Fair.
“The county fair is a Norman tradition,” she said. “I enjoyed the animals. We liked the way people took care of the animals such as the cows and lambs.”
Wu said she particularly liked the horses and rabbits, and she even ate a giant turkey leg for the first time. She also enjoyed visiting the Norman Public Library.
“I liked the library,” she said. “It’s public and free.”
Rachel Mefoumane, a student from Cameroon, is part of CESL’s academic English program. She also enjoyed the animals and food at the county fair, but a visit to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art was a favorite for her. She enjoyed the Weitzenhoffer Collection, as well as the Art of the Americas exhibit where she saw woven baskets that reminded her of home.
“In Cameroon, we make baskets the same way,” she said. “It made me think of my country and my culture.”
While in the CESL programs, students work on grammar, reading, pronunciation and speaking. They also study American culture by taking field trips into the community. The CESL Academic English Program serves OU students, while the Community English Program caters to members of the community who want to improve their English abilities.
Kelsey Carroll, program coordinator for CESL’s Community English Program, said the students have made a lot of progress since beginning the program in August.
“They’ve really come a long way,” she said. “Some of them struggled to even say ‘hello, how are you’ when they got here. I’m really impressed with how they’re doing, and I’m proud of their hard work.”