Friday, February 18, 2011

Truck Driving no foreign language for these ESL students

How can 1+1=20? When is a zero a perfect score? And where can you find 12 people born in six different countries working together as a unified team? The 10 students in instructor Bob Gunter’s Commercial Truck Driving/English as a Second Language (CDL/ESL) program can tell you. 

One plus one equals 20 when you are talking about a team of two commercial truck drivers. Two drivers behind the wheel of one tractor-trailer rig can move the rig and its freight a total of 20 hours in a 24-hour period. Compare that to the 11 hours a single driver can operate a single vehicle in a 24-hour period, and you’ll understand why the industry loves team drivers.

Another team entered the workforce when students Irina Dikaia and Dmytro Dykyy passed the Washington state Commercial Driver License Skills Test and obtained their Class A Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs) on Feb. 1. The pair became the first husband and wife team to obtain their CDLs through Bates' CDL/ESL program.

Their classmates Aleksandr Balasyuk and Stanislav Iriciuc know the great feeling a perfect zero can bring. The CDL Skills Test consists of three parts: a Pre-Trip Inspection, a Basic Controls Test (Backing) and a Road Test. A zero represents a perfect score on any of these tests. Aleks and Stanislav both got zeros on their Pre-Trip Inspection, which evaluates a driver’s ability to check their tractor-trailer for safe operation. With no errors, both Aleks and Stanislav explained the 125 items to check for safety on their tractor-trailer combination vehicle.

This current cohort of CDL/ESL students from Iraq, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine all leave Bates with their Class A and Class B CDLs—and improved English skills because of English as a second language instructor Beth Prevo.

Since 2008, Bob and Beth have successfully taken groups of students from multiple countries of origin and worked with them to create effective learning communities. The integrated learning outcomes of this CDL/ESL program include Washington Adult Learning Standards and relevant professional-technical skills standards. 

Other employees who have been instrumental in creating this unique learning environment are Ramon Burton, opportunity grant specialist; Mike Brandstetter, dean of general education and basic studies; Jim Field, career advisor; Kris Manning, executive dean of instruction; and Pavel Samoylenko, associate financial aid officer.

Article submitted by Beth Prevo and Bob Gunter.

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