Language institute teaches more than English

The English Language Institute is an intensive English language program that serves to prepare international students for the demands of college and equip with them with the language skills necessary to succeed in the local academic world.

The institute, which currently has 12 students, focuses on the academic basics of reading, writing, grammar, listening, speaking and note taking. New students take an entry test and are placed in a corresponding level according to their score. For undergraduate students there are five levels, and there is a sixth for graduate students.

There are two terms each semester and the students can complete one level of the program per term, so the full program takes around a year to complete on average, Jill Balaster, an instructor at the ELI, said.

The program focuses on language acquisition and is the first step to learning English for many of the institute’s students, Brent Hogan, coordinator of the ELI, said.

Hogan said that there seem to be miscommunications about the program and its students.

“I think some people have a false idea of what we are,” Hogan said. “The students aren’t behind on anything. They are learning the language for the first time.”

The institute not only provides students with educational language skills, but also conversational and social language skills by doing things like going out to lunch, Hogan said.

“We want to make them feel at home,” Hogan said.

The program teaches more than just how to succeed in the classroom, it teaches the students more about how to live in our world in and out of the classroom, Balaster said. The relationships that are built and the cultural exchange between the teachers and students is a key element to the success of the program.

“We know our students and our students know us,” Balaster said, “It’s fun to be able to teach them what different things mean in our culture.”

Hogan said he encourages other students and faculty to help the students adjust to the challenges of living in a new culture.