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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Learning English in an ESL class

Kong describes the bizarre, hilarious experience of her English as a Second Language class, in which a number of non-English speakers struggled to understand their teacher and one another.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA LAU:
You were talking a little bit about how you weren't the only Cambodian kid. Can you describe in some of your classrooms, say in elementary school, what kind of kids went to your school?
RAN KONG:
At Cone Elementary, our ESL classes were all— I think all of the English as a Second Language students, so not just Cambodian kids, but I also think like Laotian kids and Vietnamese kids were also there. I think we had a Vietnamese teacher as one of our English as a Second Language teachers. And the other teacher, she was Hawaiian-American. But it was funny, because I think that the ESL classes were like the best classes out of the whole entire day at school. We all looked forward to it, I guess, because in there we were all equally as, I don't know, I don't want to say like dumb, but just, you know, enough that speaking English, you know, together. So it was kind of funny, because I remember Mrs. Outlaw trying to teach us not to ever say ain't, and you know, just the fact that like, wow, 20 kids looking at this crazy lady saying, take ain't and throw it out the window. Take ain't and throw it out the window and— cause she was trying to emphasize to us to never say ain't. And so my sister was actually in that class with me. So just the fact that, you know, gosh what is this teacher doing? She's saying take ain't and throw it out the window. Take ain't and throw it out the window. I guess it never really hit home until, you got older. But you know, it was fun.