Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0514EVesl.html

College celebrates learning English
The Arizona Republic
May. 14, 2003 12:00 AM
Mel MelÚndez

CHANDLER - Their homelands are as diverse as the students themselves: Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Honduras, Japan, Mexico and Pakistan.

But today they'll participate in a Chandler-Gilbert Community Collegeevent that celebrates their one common goal: improving their English skills.

More than 100 students will receive certificates at a multicultural potluck social for completing English as a second language courses this school year.

"It helps celebrate their accomplishments because for many of them this is their first college course in their new country," said Virginia Edwards, the ESL program coordinator.

About 225 students from more than 20 different countries annually enroll in the program, launched in 1988.

It offers nearly 20 different courses designed to improve English learners' conversational, reading and writing skills.

About half of the students want to improve their English, while the rest seek college degrees, Edwards said.

"Nearly 82 percent of our enrollees are Hispanic. But our students come from all over . . . Asia, Europe, Africa," she said.

"The majority are recent immigrants. But some have been living in the U.S. for 15 years and finally decided to improve their English."

Tallat Siddique, a part-time dispatcher at the college, will receive special recognition for earning an associate degree in computer

Siddique, a Pakistani, said English was a challenge.

"Math and physics were easy. But English . . . that was hard," she said.

"But the teachers here are very accessible and encouraging, and here I am."

Geovanny Diaz, a manufacturing technician at Intel, recently completed his first reading class.

"I have an associate degree in computer technology," said the self-taught English reader and writer.

"But I want a bachelor's in engineering and for that I need to perfect my English. It's about improving your English to help better yourself."

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-7758.