"The ESOL office is extremely helpful in terms of helping me improve my writing skills. Before I came to Hamilton, I used to get all "A"s for my English paper in high school back in China. However, when I got here, I took a writing-intensive English class and got a lousy "C+" for my first college essay. I went to the Writing Center once, but I felt that it wasn't quite helpful for international students who need more help in verbal and grammatical issues. It was at the club fair that I met Ms. Hysell and decided to give it a try on the ESOL program. The results were out of my expectations. My writing skills improved significantly throughout my freshman year. I got an "A" for my final paper in English, an "A" for my final paper in Macroeconomics and an "A+" for my final research paper in Comparative Politics. I feel more confident in writing now and get involved in writing for the science and technology section of The Spectator. I am even looking forward to writing for the online journals for the admission office."
Valedictorian of Class of 2012
“As students having studied English in other countries, sometimes in international schools for our whole lives, some of us do not consider ourselves ‘non-native’ English speakers. Our language ability is definitely competent enough in terms of grammar and diction, but our writing and explanatory styles may differ from the method favored in the traditional American college paper.”
“I guess professors support programs that can improve our writing skills, and the ESOL program is just the right one for international students like me whose first language is not English. I have learned that writing is a process that requires knowledge of traditional linear methods as well as knowing how to link one’s personal experience to a large social content. A good writer usually completes the process using prewriting activities, outlines, three drafts and ends with proofreading. All of my professors strongly encouraged me to work with a tutor in the ESOL program.”
“I believe the ESOL program was a safe haven for me. Every morning when we had class I felt like I was no longer an outsider but I belonged here. Everything I learned during class provided me with a solid foundation to further my Hamilton career. And as I became more comfortable with my life on the Hill, I was able to come into my own as a person, a woman, a writer and a poet.”
“My professors pointed out that the weaknesses I had in my paper are thesis statement, sentence structure, paragraph organization, grammar, and word choices. They complimented me on my ideas, creativity and sources used for my paper. In order to tackle my weaknesses, I scheduled an appointment with my professor beforehand to talk about the ideas of my paper, and then focused on details such as grammar and structure at every ESOL writing conference.”
“Based on my experience at Hamilton for the past three years and a half I can say that the ESOL program has helped me reorganize the different levels of English in the academic environment offered at Hamilton. Having taken ESOL classes during my freshman year increased my confidence with the use of the English language. After pronunciation workshops and a lot of grammar exercises, I was able to stop second guessing myself when writing, and my class participation increased.”
"As a first year and ambitious international student, I wanted to have a good start at an American college. Knowing English is not enough to succeed at Hamilton given its emphasis on effective writing and persuasive speaking. I did not know what a thesis is, I did not put the comma inside the quotation marks and occasionally I directly translated phrases from my native language into English. Hamilton professors expect the best from every student and being a nonnative English speaker is not an excuse for a poor paper.
What is unique about the program is the concern that the tutors have about the student's voice in the editing process. Not only do the tutors teach the students the "rules of the (academic) game" but they give us the courage to actively participate in class, conduct the ESOL radio show or even write for The Spectator.
As an international first year, I often felt like I had a linguistic handicap. It was not because I could not speak or write in English, but because I had a different (European) way to write essays and present my arguments. Writing a thesis in the last paragraph was acceptable at a Romanian school, but in the American educational system that is a big no-no. Through the ESOl program, I realized that being a nonnative English speaker is not a handicap at Hamilton. In fact, I grew confident that with the proper knowledge of the "rules of the game," I can be "ahead of the game."
Class of 2010