So I taught my new ESL class on this week. It is going to be sooooo awesome! Last semester I only had 2 students who didn't speak spanish, and they both spoke Arabic. So far this semester I have:
* Several from Mexico
* An older woman from Iran
* An 85 year old man from China (HOLY COW!)
* An 18 year old girl from Russia
* A brother and sister (18, 20) from Vietnam
* A 20 something woman from Korea
* A 20 something woman from Ethiopia
* and several who've been in the US for decades and still are struggling to learn English.
Many of my students are PROFESSIONALS (nurses, teachers, engineers) in their home countries but have come with spouses for phd programs, or to live with their grown children, etc.
I am so glad about all of this because they HAVE TO SPEAK ENGLISH TO EACH OTHER TO COMMUNICATE! I'm going to have to keep an eye on it though, because after 2 class periods birds of a feather (spanish speakers) are flocking together. I always remind them that how much English they learn is really up to them. I only see them 8 hours a week, so what they do on their own time is a huge factor.
On a similarly related note, you really don't need to speak English to live in Las Cruces, or New Mexico for that matter. Spanish is an official language of the state, and I'm not exagerrating when I say that no matter where you go, from walmart, to the drs' office to the court, someone will be there to speak spanish to you. It is good for ' the masses' but not so good for many other reasons. A good handful of my students are hear learning English because they have a degree from a university in Mexico, but they can't get a good job IN MEXICO because they don't speak English. Now there's some irony for you.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to this semester and all the tales it will bring :)