Facing the Challenge: English For a Future Engineering Career
“Learning a language is a process; it starts when you are born and we build skills,” said Antonio Sermao, an ESL Academy graduate and student at the College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Denver. “The ESL Specialists taught me how to support developing the language by myself.”
Sermao considers his studies at the ESL Academy to be of vital importance for his success as an engineering student and for his future career plans to work on robotic devices.
“In everything that I’m studying in school, I want to face it in reality. According to the market, more industrial robots are being used; there are robots that we can send to the moon to collect data or work in dangerous places.”
He enumerated on the many things he learned at the ESL Academy, including basic grammar skills, how to form sentences in English, how to write a five-page essay, and how to research and write a presentation and deliver a speech. “They (ESL Specialists) give you the base, then you have to give the advanced ideas.”
He also added, “When I met with my engineering advisor, he didn’t expect me to know many things about the CU Denver campus, but I did because of the ESL Academy.”
When he first left his home country of Angola to pursue an education in Denver, Sermao started at another local intensive English program. However, several friends advised him to switch to the University of Colorado Denver because of its respected engineering program and its more affordable tuition. Sermao had already developed proficiency in academic reading and basic writing, but he needed to refine his research and writing skills, which are required for college-level work; he also needed to improve his ability to give compelling classroom presentations.
The rigorous, coordinated research process that is part of the final level at the ESL Academy was exactly what Sermao needed. His final research paper and presentation, Robots in Car Manufacturing, prepared him well for academic success at CU Denver.
“I’m taking two engineering classes, Calculus I, economics, Germans in Germany, logic and design, and electrical engineering – it’s busy!” He noted that the pace is “really fast” and that the professors have high expectations. “I wouldn’t recommend that students attend their university classes without going to the ESL Academy first.”
Sermao thinks that studying technology and the English language will make it easier for him to get a good job and have more opportunities.
“The world is getting smaller. In order to get involved, you should understand the environment and understand other people; they will see you as a brother and it is easier to connect,” he said. “When we study a global education, we easily recognize other people; we accept the differences among us.”
Living in Denver while he finishes his education has provided Sermao with many cultural and recreational opportunities. “I like to play soccer in the parks; there’s plenty of room. I like to go to the mountains and I really enjoy the sunshine.”
He suggested that other international students who are considering studies at CU Denver and in the United States spend time in the English program.
“The student will learn the system of education in the United States. He will be able to face the challenge and avoid things like plagiarism and learn how to speak correctly when giving a speech.”
For Sermao and, in his opinion, for students from countries around the world, “The ESL Academy is good, because you don’t just speak, you also write; and that’s what we’re required to do in a university.”