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Building bridges of inclusion: The vital role of ESL education in America’s diverse mosaic

In a nation where over 400 languages are spoken, ESL programs are essential in facilitating effective communication, academic success, and societal integration

Photo courtesy of Enkhchimeg Sharav
Photo courtesy of Enkhchimeg Sharav

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

English as a Second Language (ESL) plays a significant role in the education field in the United States, given its cultural diversity and the presence of individuals from various linguistic backgrounds. The U.S. is home to people from many linguistic and cultural diversity, with nearly one in five individuals, or about 67.8 million people, speaking a language other than English at home in 2019, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. In a nation where over 400 languages are spoken, ESL programs are essential in facilitating effective communication, academic success, and societal integration for those whose first language is not English. These programs cater to immigrants, refugees, and international students, providing them with language skills necessary for navigating daily life, pursuing education, and thriving in the workforce. The importance of ESL education extends beyond language proficiency, fostering inclusivity and cultural understanding within communities. By offering support to non-native English speakers, ESL programs contribute to breaking down language barriers, promoting equal opportunities, and enriching the inclusive and dynamic society through the celebration of linguistic diversity.

Enkhchimeg Sharav, an educator, has established herself as an expert in the field of ESL education. With a career spanning 17 years and a rich academic background, Sharav’s journey has not only shaped her educational philosophy but has also led her to establish a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering inclusive education. Her consistent commitment to education, research, and international collaboration sets her apart as a leader and advocate for positive change in the ESL landscape.

Sharav’s global perspective

Sharav’s academic journey began in Mongolia, where she served as an English as a Foreign Language teacher before pursuing her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at Montana State University in the United States. Reflecting on her international experiences, Sharav states, “My academic journey has been a bridge connecting different cultures, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of global educational dynamics and the diverse needs of students.”

Sharav’s contributions to education are diverse and impactful. She actively engages with students in her community, participates in outreach projects, and collaborates with educators worldwide. “Education is a collaborative effort, and my goal has always been to contribute to a positive and inclusive learning environment. It’s about making a difference for each student, regardless of their diverse background.”

Founding the international education networking initiative

Motivated by her passion for education and a desire to make a broader impact, Sharav established the nonprofit organization, International Education Networking Initiative. Speaking about the organization’s mission, she emphasizes, “We aim to create an interconnected educational landscape where students and educators can engage in a rich spectrum of diverse educational experiences. It’s about building bridges that foster cultural understanding and collaborative growth.”

One of the core goals of Sharav’s nonprofit is to support Multilingual learners and K-12 students who need extra assistance in achieving academic success. Sharav affirms, “We are dedicated to breaking down barriers and ensuring that every student, regardless of their background, has equal access to quality education. This entails equipping and empowering educators and providing the necessary resources for students to thrive academically.”

Sharav’s experience in the United States highlights her dedication to creating a more inclusive and interconnected educational environment. “Inclusivity is at the heart of our educational approach. By supporting diverse student populations and contributing to ESL education, we are working towards a future where every student and educator has the opportunity to succeed academically and professionally.”

Her impact on ESL education in the United States is a clear demonstration of her dedication, leadership, and commitment to inclusivity. Through her extensive experience, global perspective, and the establishment of the International Education Networking Initiative, she is actively shaping the future of education. Sharav’s story exemplifies the potential for individuals to revolutionize education and create a lasting impact on a local and global scale, showcasing the power of passion and commitment in the pursuit of quality education.

ESL education in the United States is a linchpin for fostering effective communication and societal integration in a nation marked by cultural diversity. Beyond its instrumental role in language acquisition, ESL education holds the key to societal integration. As individuals develop proficiency in English, they find it easier to integrate into American communities, accessing essential services, engaging in cultural events, and contributing meaningfully to their local environments. This integration fosters a sense of belonging and understanding, enriching the social fabric of the United States. By embracing linguistic diversity through ESL programs, the nation not only empowers individuals to participate fully in American life but also strengthens its social cohesion by celebrating the richness of its multicultural mosaic. In essence, ESL education serves as a bridge, connecting diverse communities and contributing to the vibrant mosaic that defines the United States.

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Jon Stojan is a professional writer based in Wisconsin. He guides editorial teams consisting of writers across the US to help them become more skilled and diverse writers. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.

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