Student-led ESL program impacts Anderson community

Mon, 2013-04-01 10:21 -- univcomm
Jordan Koontz
April 1, 2013

A group of five Anderson University students and alumni have started an English as a second language (ESL) program in the Anderson, Ind., community. The students who worked to establish the program have different backgrounds, but they all have the common desire to serve the community around them. By combining their unique skills and experiences, they are giving back and growing a relationship with the Anderson community.

The program consists of beginning, intermediate, and advanced English classes that take place twice a week at Anderson Elementary School. The classes consist of grammar practice, review of assigned homework, and a question and answer time — all of which assist the ESL students to better communicate in the community and feel confident in doing so. Before entering the program, prospective learners must take a placement test to determine their existing knowledge of the English language.

[Photo: AU senior Jordan Koontz works with a local English language learner.]

Ruben Orozco, one of the five program leaders, is a senior biology major at AU. Orozco participated in a mentor program at the high school level, which opened the opportunity to transition into assisting adults with learning English in the Anderson community. He felt he could relate to other English language learners, as he was in a similar position around five years ago when he moved to the United States.

“I am honored to give back and help my Latino community through this service-based program of teaching English,” said Orozco. “It is very rewarding to see the dedication and determination that has grown within the individuals. The group has been very consistent from the start of the program. These are hardworking individuals who are greatly appreciative of the time and service we offer.”

Jordan Koontz, another leader, is a senior Spanish and information systems major and English minor at AU. Koontz has developed a strong passion for service throughout his time at AU. He was approached by his peers with the idea of the program. His fellow program leaders felt that his background with Spanish, his travel experience, and his interest in public service would all be helpful when relating to the ESL students.

“This came at a moment in my life that I truly needed direction and fulfillment — some way in which I could use my talents to make significant and transformative differences in the lives of others,” said Koontz. “I believe the results exceeded most expectations, considering the limitations of us merely being young idealistic students.”

Koontz said the program has seen ESL students who have consistently made an effort to learn English and better their communication skills semester after semester. It is because of the AU students’ dedication that the group has been able to continue the classes. The program’s responsibilities are divided between Orozco, Koontz, and three other students and alumni: Lilian Lozano, Jessica Soriano, and Ricci Warwick.

This experience has allowed the AU students to gain a new perspective on academia and service. “While the classroom undoubtedly plays an important role in our lives, true knowledge and growth arrives from serving others,” said Koontz.

— Emmalee Strait is a junior from Anderson University, majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Strait is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.