Accommodating College ESL Learner Communication Needs: Perceptions, Policies, and Practices
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The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to determine how the Practical Nursing and Pharmacy Technician programs in one southern Ontario community college could more effectively accommodate ESL learners' communication needs. The literature review examined (a) linguistic issues, such as language testing and second-language learning theories, (b) organizational matters, such as ESL curriculum and teacher training, and (c) affective issues, such as motivation for second-language learning, learning styles, and the student-teacher relationship. I gathered perceptual data from the programs' administrators, faculty members, and ESL learners. Eleven participants took part in individual interviews or a focus group session. The results suggest that ESL learners need assistance with discipline-specific vocabulary and cultural nuances. College ESL learners' weak communicative competence, together with misleading acceptance standards for ESL learners and limited support available to faculty members and to students, decrease opportunities for successful completion of the programs. The results point to re-assessment of the college's admission policies and procedures, program evaluation practices that consider the needs of ESL learners, discipline-specific language support, and strategies to enhance the ESL student-teacher relationship. The study highlights theory relating to ESL learners' self-perception and engagement, as well as the importance of including the voice of college ESL learners in educational research. The results suggest that despite ESL learners' perseverance in completing their studies, power imbalances remain. The college has yet to implement organizational strategies such as discipline-specific communications and ESL courses and extended language support that could meet the communication needs of ESL learners in the two programs.