Story and portrait by Brandon Steinert
Yota Kamikawa came to Barton Community College from Japan knowing only a little English, but in less than three months he is able to competently carry on a conversation in his second language. Kamikawa has been taking English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Barton, and he said it has made all the difference.
“My English has improved quite a bit,” he said. “I hope to one day work as an analyst for a professional baseball team.”
He has already completed two years of college in Japan. Barton’s associate degree and the ability to speak English will help him land his dream job.
ESOL Instructor Abby Howe said Kamikawa is a model student.
“Yota’s English was good when he arrived at Barton in August, but his skills have already improved,” she said. “He is a hard worker, and I am impressed by the way he works on improving his English. He not only studies and attends classes but also finds opportunities to practice outside class.”
Howe said ESOL is a little unconventional in its approach, which makes Kamikawa’s progress even more impressive.
“The unique challenge in ESOL is that all the lessons and assignments are in English, which the students are learning as a foreign language,” she explained. “Imagine that you attended the first day of a German I class and the instructor only communicated in German. At the most basic levels, like Introduction to English and ESOL, I use pictures, pantomime, and examples to communicate the ideas of the words and lessons. At the upper levels, ESOL II and III, I explain unfamiliar words and lessons by using English words and concepts that the students already know.”
Kamikawa said he’s grateful for the level of support he has received from Barton while trying to learn English, noting a few key elements of Barton’s atmosphere that have been conducive to his success. Class size, he said, is particularly important.
“Having more one-on-one interaction is very important,” he said. “Since there are fewer people in a class, the teachers can listen to you and help you.”
Those interested in learning English through Barton can contact the Testing Center at bartonccc.edu/online/services/placement or send an email to [email protected] to schedule and take a free placement test without any commitment. They can meet with Howe or another advisor to discuss options for classes at the appropriate level. Part-time students can only take one class at a time.
This story is part of a series celebrating Academics Month through November, which highlights Barton’s various academic programs through events, stories, social media posts and more. Visit bartonccc.edu/academicsmonth for more information.