Local News

May 8, 2013

International students make the grade



For most international students, the hardest part of adjustment is during their first few weeks.

Khalil Laouani, a student from Tunisia, said it was hard because everybody, including other international students, had a different accent.

However, he said, his professors and friends have always helped him and are very understanding. 

“But other people don’t understand, and sometimes they make jokes.”

Christa Ettee, from Syria, experienced similar situations. 

She did not feel much culture shock when she arrived in the United States, and her English was quite proficient, as she had attended an high school where students had to speak English or face detention.

Even so, she has had to make adjustments of her own.

“Sometimes, it’s frustrating because there’s always someone who asks me about my accent,” she said. “Or they would not understand, for example, they would ask, ‘Did you say class or glass?’ 

”But they do it as a joke, not in a bad way.”


International students are not the only ones who take ESL classes.

“About 40 percent of Americans take English 100,” Gottschall said.

International students, though, usually need extra support from professors, tutors and other reinforcement, she said.

Gottschall said the lowest-level classes are usually more exciting to teach because they consist of small groups, and the students show rapid progress. 

“Most of the students want to get better (at English), and they’re happy to get the teachers’ help and tutoring sessions.”

Gottschall said those students start with writing short paragraphs, and by the end of the semester, it becomes short essays.


Sandu Karunarathne, a student from Sri Lanka, had also attended a high school where English was spoken, so the language, she said, isn’t much of a challenge.

“I don’t usually have a problem to communicate in English, but when it comes to explaining something very personal, sometimes the right words don’t come out,” she said.

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