By Qingqing Wang (China)
When I was in China, I wanted to learn English in a language school. My friend laughed at me and said that I was wasting my e-mail looking for a school. He told me that when I arrived in New York, I would speak English like a native-born American. So, I accepted his advice not to learn English. But when I came to New York, I was disappointed. Everything was not as I imagined it; my new life was a challenge.
All my family is Chinese so I don’t have a chance to speak English. My husband speaks English very fluently, but how strange it would be for us to speak English at home! I have been searching for some information about language schools for a long time. American education system is developed and there are a lot of free ESL classes in New York. If you want to join a program, you only need to fill out an application form and you can enroll in a free ESL class. At first, I chose the Union Settlement Association adult program, which is sponsored by the federal government. It is very close to my home and that is why I chose it. I studied there for a month, and then I wanted to stop because I felt very bored. The content of the course was so monotonous, our teachers always focused on grammar, and students didn’t have a lot of time to talk with other students. So, at the end of last year, I ended my classes at the Union Settlement Association.
My English improved a little but I still didn’t have confidence to speak. I felt stressed out. I was hoping to look for a job, but it is difficult for a person who can’t speak English very well to get a job. Then I joined Upwardly Global job seekers program and they provided me with a list of ESL classes in New York. I searched for information about these organizations and made some comparisons. When I went to the International Center website, I found that it offers a variety of classes and that the schedule of classes is very flexible. So, I decided to study at the International Center. My choice proved to be right. Volunteer teachers at the Center come from different areas, they have strong professional backgrounds, and they are also very easygoing. During the classes, we gain a lot of new knowledge which expands our horizons. Spoken English is my weakness; I want to improve it all the time. I have a lot of open classes at the International Center, where I can practice speaking with other students and I can also discuss interesting topics. I like all these classes. In addition, IC often organizes group activities, such as excursions, picnics, and visits to interesting cultural places. That is enriching our lives, and we can also meet new friends through these activities. IC also provides a support to new immigrants. We can study English for free and get a great lunch for only one dollar. Also, every month I receive a newsletter from IC that covers information like housing, job openings, educational opportunities, and new programs. International Center is like our little warm home – I love IC.