ESL or EAL
I was visiting with Ka Di Thang “Kyaw Win” [Jaw Win] today and discovered a new perspective about our arriving Chin Burmese. When a person flees Burma the eastern folks go over the border into Thailand and end up in a refugee camp. They are relegated to the premises, among people that speak their language and they receive a subsistence alotment of rice each month.
The western folks, Chin and Kachin Burmese, travel south to Malaysia where their status is dicey, they aren’t citizens so they aren’t supposed to have jobs, there is no refugee camp. They have to scramble for a living. So they eek out a living in a foreign culture. But not only that, many of them learn to speak Malaysian, as well as knowing their original dialect of Chin and state mandated Burmese. So when we conduct English as a Second Language (ESL) classes it is more accurate to say it is English as an Additional Language (EAL). These folks who had to make it on their own, adapt to a foreign culture and learn a new language seem to be enculturating to America at a more rapid pace than other arriving refugees.