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ASU students engage with English language learners, learn about university-based ESL programs

By

Samantha Talavera

Aya Matsuda, Arizona State University associate professor of applied linguistics, recognizes the need for her students to gain a deeper understanding of Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) and different student experiences as part of the English language learning journey.

“Most students have never seen how English as a Second Language (ESL) is taught. I wanted to provide an opportunity for my students to meet ESL students from different parts of the world and broaden their perspectives," she  said. "It gives them a chance to learn about new cultures while reflecting on what they are used to and may take for granted. That, in my view, is a great learning opportunity for any ASU student.”

To help, Matsuda called upon Global Launch, ASU’s English language learning and academic preparation unit. Currently Global Launch provides English language learning courses and programs to students seeking to improve their English proficiency for university admission or for career development. More than 40 global educators teach English in Global Launch, and all have at least a master’s degree in TESOL. 

“Global Launch has a unique way of thinking about English language learning and teaching," said Lois Malone, assistant director of academic services at Global Launch. "A lot of our teaching philosophy comes from the staff and faculty’s experiences working and living abroad, often in places where they had to learn a new language themselves. Global Launch educators bring this experience, empathy and knowledge into their classrooms and make the language learning both engaging and relevant to students. Helping students realize their dreams by removing language barriers and cultivating shared human connection is what motivates all of us at Global Launch.” 

On the day of the collaboration, students from ENG 404 observed a live class in the Global Launch Online Immersion program at various English proficiency levels. Then, Matsuda’s students were paired with the ESL learners to participate in “Meet an ASU student” — an activity created and hosted by Global Launch activities coordinator Linda Hill and global educator Tom Becskehazy.

“'Meet an ASU student' allows our ESL learners a chance to practice their conversation skills and create meaningful connections with other cultures. Conversation practice with actual American students is an invaluable experience for international students, and something that would be very difficult to replicate outside of an English language program,” Hill said.

At the same time, Matsuda’s students learned more about the language learning experience directly from the learners themselves. 

While some students were unsure about their ability to communicate with English language learners, they soon figured out how to make their speech more understandable, and began to enjoy the conversation, quickly finding out how much they had in common.

“Overall my students felt they learned a lot about their group members and their cultures, and that, in my opinion, is an invaluable learning experience,” Matsuda said.

To learn more about or to partner with the Global Launch English language program visit globallaunch.asu.edu