Language center to sharpen skills

On Thursday, Nov. 15, students and faculty crowded into the new center for the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program in the basement of Milne Library to watch President Dahl and Jeannette Molina, director of the ESOL program, cut the ribbon in a formal opening ceremony.

Irene Belyakov, Oral Communication Lab coordinator for the center, said that she and other ESOL faculty have been working toward the center's creation since 2000. At that time, less than 10 students were involved with the program; today, over 100 international and domestic students utilize the center and its services. Although the staff is still learning the advanced software packages that can help students better their speaking and auditory skills, the center has been fully functional since the beginning of the semester.

In addition to the ESOL faculty, English and communicative disorders and sciences majors and graduate students serve as tutors and "speech buddies." Students for whom English is not a first language can go to the center for non-credit-bearing consultations and individual tutoring sessions to improve their pronunciation, academic writing, and overall familiarity with English.

Edwin Rivenburgh, college director of libraries, welcomed the ESOL center to the family of Milne Library and marked the center's opening as the "culmination of a dream."

Student teachers Karima Az zekraoui and Aurora Gutierrez-Luna spoke about how the center has personally helped them improve their language skills. "I don't have words to spread how thankful I am," said Gutierrez-Luna.

"This is a wonderful beginning and a wonderful achievement of many things that are important to SUNY Geneseo," said Dahl at the ceremony. In light of the 21st century shift to a multilingual society, Dahl said the ESOL center would help Geneseo become a "better teaching and learning community."

The center is located in Milne 108 and offers walk-in hours Tuesday through Thursday.