Student language survey

Adrienne Oliva, Editor in Chief

A new survey is being sent out on March 5 to all students enrolled in English courses in order for the college to gain a perspective on how language affects learning.

“It is an evaluation of how language impacts the success and retention of students in English courses this semester,” explained Senior Writing Center Coordinator and L2 specialist Susanne Trieber.

The survey will be the college’s first look at how many languages are actively spoken on campus.

As Madison College is such a diverse campus, Trieber believes that the survey is an integral way for students to share their diverse cultural and linguistic experiences in order to better the college.

“As we begin to have a more linguistically diverse culture, we have more students whose first language is Spanish, or Hmong, or Chinese, or Somalian, or Bhutanese…” explained Trieber. “(The survey) is a way for our college to better understand the language background of our students, and trying to determine how that language background is impacting their experience.”

One thing that Trieber is expecting to see in the survey results is feedback about what American classroom practices don’t translate immediately to students who speak English as a second language.

“When you think about being a college student in an American culture, there are certain nuances that are not really spoken about,” said Treiber. “Like participation. Participating in class is a very common educational practice here in the United States, that is not necessarily the case in another culture.”

In addition to classroom practices not translating, terminology and references could also cause a potential misunderstanding in the learning process. Trieber explains that cultural references could be a possible barrier for international students trying to learn in an American environment.

Trieber explains that these cultural references can pop up anywhere, even while trying to read a basic article for a class requirement.

Trieber explains that instructors could be using materials that are “assuming your students have an understanding of American culture. And all the sudden, here they’re reading about Star Wars, and they have never heard of Star Wars. So not only do they have to read an article about something happening in the United States, they also have to watch a movie to understand where this issue or topic is related.”

Trieber hopes that the survey will be the college’s first step in creating a larger conversation about how language affects the learning experience of our students at Madison College.

“What our hope is that we can engage in further dialogue on how to not just understand how students who have multi-languages learn, but what are some of the potential barriers, what are the some of the challenges they experience, and how can we as a college, as instructors, better navigate and remove any barriers as it relates to language.”

The survey will be sent to the student emails of all students enrolled in English classes this semester, and will run from March 5 to March 28.