Celebrating the ESOL Program’s Ninth Anniversary

by Joe Gettler, BNL Media & Communications Office

On September 30, more than 40 BNLers and their family members met in the Recreation Hall for the ninth annual English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program recognition celebration.

ESOL celebrationClick on the image to download a high-resolution version.

Participants in BNL’s English for Speakers of Other Languages program with former Coordinator Jennifer Pieniazek (eighth from right) celebrate the program’s ninth anniversary.

“BNL attracts some of the brightest people and their families from around the world. By welcoming those who don’t speak English to learn grammar, reading skills, and American culture, ESOL classes help them get acclimated to life at Brookhaven and in the United States,” said former ESOL coordinator Jennifer Pieniazek of the Quality of Life Office.

During the ceremony, ESOL students and volunteer teachers Izaskun Atorrasagasti, Ksenia Kayran, and Natascha Lehner were recognized for their participation in ESOL programs. Jim Higgins of the Nuclear Science and Technology Department received special recognition for nine years of tutoring service with the program.

“It can be intimidating to live in a country that does not speak your native language,” Yi Zhang said during the ceremony. She is an electrical engineer at the Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and an ESOL student from China. “By participating in ESOL classes, we not only have more proficiency in the language, but also are more confident in talking.”

“Sometimes, people couldn’t understand what I was saying, and ESOL classes have helped me improve my pronunciation,” said Alba Vidal Sandrea, a postdoc from Venezuela in the Chemistry Department. “Furthermore, it has been a very nice experience to meet people from different parts of the world because apart from learning English, we learn about others’ cultures.”

The ESOL program at BNL offers English classes on site for speakers of all abilities on several days and times each week. They hone their linguistic skills with tongue twisters, pronunciation exercises, grammar activities, reading tasks, and presentation assignments. Scientists can get advice on grammar and pronunciation before giving a talk. In addition, ESOL students are invited to learn about American culture by participating in activities such as an annual Thanksgiving dinner and strawberry picking at a local farm.

The ESOL program also offers English-speaking BNLers the chance to learn French, Russian, and Spanish in classes that are taught by volunteers.


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Last Modified: September 13, 2013
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DOE, Office of Science One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

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