America, like many nations, is becoming an increasingly pluralistic nation of the twenty-first century. In most major cities all over the world it is common to hear many different languages in schools, shopping centers, airports or neighborhoods. ESL classes help people of these different language groups learn how to communicate in English, so it is only natural that an ESL curriculum addresses topics relevant to a person’s journey toward bi-culturalism. The goal of this advanced English conversation curriculum is to help ESL learners and international students mainstream into a dominant English speaking culture and develop a comfortable bi-cultural identity. That way, they can be at home in both their culture of origin and their new “foreign” culture. The expectation is that through English conversation practice and discussion of topics relevant to them, learners will develop the confidence to move outside the cocoon of their own language group. They can then interact successfully in English in the daily routines of life because they understand English and can be understood by English-speaking people.
The content is developed from real-life stories, written by a team including ESL learners, about issues they have experienced in learning how to live successfully specifically in the United States, but the curriculum is applicable in any global context in which people want to learn more about the American lifestyle. It is specifically written for immigrants in America or people thinking of coming to America. Since the curriculum is discussion-based, it gives learners the opportunity to discuss their feelings and to support one another in their cultural adjustment.
The book is also being used in a ministry to international students called Cultural Connections. Various chapters that are particularly relevant for internationals are presented in a short lecture format followed by small group discussion.