They just want to speak English

They are Syrian immigrants and Bhutanese refugees. Spouses of visiting professors from Pakistan and au pairs from Ecuador. Studious mothers of 12 from Somalia whose turn it is, finally, to attend class. Some, highly educated in their home country, arrive with advanced degrees. Others have never set foot inside a school and struggle to read and write in their native language.

Step into an English as a Second Language classroom at Madison College’s downtown campus, and you’ll find learners from 10 or 15 countries, and as many stations in life, practicing together. “The clock is on the wall.” “Epiphane is Akugbe’s brother.” Or in higher levels, “Had I known you like reggae, I would have invited you.”

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Gison Batista

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