Understanding English as a Second Language (ESL)

Here at the Writing Center, we work primarily with students of all kinds on what we call the “higher order concerns” of college writing, like organization, support and analysis. 

Sometimes, however, we need to traverse a language barrier first in order to do so.

In Fall 2010, UConn Storrs enrolled about 25,000 students, around 17% or 1450 of whom were international students from over 100 countries. Many of these students were non-native speakers of English, and many came to the Writing Center for help with developing and presenting their ideas while simultaneously grappling to learn to communicate in another language. 

But if English is spoken in over 125 countries worldwide and its non-native speakers now outnumber native speakers 3 to 1, can it be all that difficult to learn? 

Absolutely, says veteran of web academia Xamue in his “10 Reasons Why English is a Hard Language.” 

In fact, the vast majority of the ESL (English second language) students who visit us are raised speaking dialects of Chinese, Japanese and Korean, languages that differ from English in about every way. Check out this chart from the people at INFOGRAPHIC for a better look. Makes you wish you hadn’t complained so much in Spanish class, right?

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