The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Opinion: Why do international students not integrate themselves into activities at Woodside?

Ellos son algunos de los estudiantes que nos encontramos aprendiendo Inglés.

This article was translated into English. 

On many occasions, international students face a lot of fear and really complicated situations. We international students and newcomers have to face the fear of not knowing English. We feel compelled to learn English because we feel that doors are closed for us when we don’t know the language. We have to work much harder to excel academically. Being surrounded by people who speak English, unfortunately, means that we can’t necessarily talk to them.

I remember the times when I was so frustrated that I didn’t know English, and being surrounded by people who only spoke English made me feel very lost. The desire to want to speak, ask questions, and give an opinion in the classroom and not do so out of shame and fear of not knowing how to speak English is something I think about all the time. For example, if I say a word with a strange pronunciation I feel everyone will laugh at me. I think that this is the biggest problem that we Spanish speakers have because as soon as we say something, people will laugh at us for not saying each word or sentence correctly.

I still remember each time I would cry coming out of the classroom because I was super frustrated and my heart yearned to know English. I felt invisible in the classroom when I couldn’t contribute my thoughts. I would often be alone because there were no other Spanish-speaking classmates.

Cristian Infante, a junior, is an international student at Woodside. 

“More than fear, I feel ashamed… to be a part of a school activity just to think that I will be surrounded by people who speak English and that I will not be able to speak to them because I feel like they’re going to make fun of my English,” Infante said.

Infante said that sometimes learning English is very complex. 

“I’ve been frustrated at times for not knowing English,” Infante said. “[It is difficult] wanting to meet more people, wanting to socialize with them and not being able to because they don’t speak Spanish. Learning English becomes more and more difficult. There have been moments when the teacher only speaks English and I don’t understand. We have a teacher who helps the teacher with the translation, [so] when I don’t understand something I always ask her.”

Arnold Hernández arrived at Woodside about 6 months ago. Arnold spoke about a very common phenomenon, in which, when trying to speak English, your own friends think that you’re showing off and walk away from you.

“When I think that I might lose my friends because I want to practice English or that they or other [students] are going to make fun of me for speaking [poor English], I feel ashamed and afraid at the same time,” Hernández said. 

The practice to learn more English is difficult for him at times.  

“There are times when it is really difficult for me to learn English, I’ve tried studying and practicing English but when I get home and speak Spanish with my whole family, I forget how little I learned,” Hernández said. “I don’t dare participate in school activities because I’m afraid, ashamed, and I won’t have people to talk to. It frustrates me not knowing English.

Jose Chavac is a new international student at Woodside. 

“Speaking and learning English is very difficult for each and every one of us newly arrived students,” Chavac said. “Each one of us has our own language and that sometimes makes us feel very frustrated because sometimes we just want to speak and learn. But sometimes we realize that it is more difficult than we thought.”

Chavac says the Woodside staff is a great help to newly arrived students. 

“Sometimes they help us too much [by speaking to us in our own language], and on the other hand, I think it’s good because we could feel worse if we didn’t have help,” Chavac said. “Still, I think they hurt us by helping us so much …it’s like they put a limit on our learning.”

Chavac said that the fear sometimes prevents him from being able to participate into different activities at Woodside.

“Sometimes I think that if I was a part of many programs and activities here at Woodside,” Chavac said. “I would learn much more English because I would be surrounded by people who speak English. I am not afraid to want to [join different activities], but I feel that it would be difficult for me because I would not be able to communicate with many people.” 

Marco Pérez is another new international student at Woodside. 

“I’ve wanted to be part of the basketball or swimming team but I feel that English prevents me because the truth is that I feel a little scared to talk to the people in charge because they only speak English,” Pérez said. “Several times I’ve been disappointed. I think that I’ve been here in the United States for seven months and perhaps I have not given my 100% effort to learn all the English that I need.” 

Pérez said that sometimes he feels that the school rises to a very high level of difficulty due to a lack of knowledge of English.

“I have managed to adapt to most of my classes now, but I have one class, which I’m having a hard time [with], it is geometry class and I think that maybe it is because my English is very little,” Pérez said.

Pérez mentioned his discomfort when surrounded by people who speak only English.

“When I’m around a lot of people who speak English I really feel too strange, because they say things that I want to know they’re talking about,” Pérez said. “There are times when people come up to me and speak English and I can’t understand what they want to tell me.”

Each one of us tries to learn English every day. We try to practice and pay as much attention as possible in our English classes. We put in a lot of effort to improve so that we can take advantage of the many opportunities that this country offers for each student who has the desire to get ahead and have a better future.

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About the Contributor
Xamara Carrillo
Xamara Carrillo, Online Editor
Xamara Carrillo is a junior and third-year journalist. She enjoys writing about local and campus news. She hopes that she can improve her writing while telling others about what happens on campus. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering. 

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