WVU’s new English Language Learning Institute is centralizing academic resources for international students whose first language is not English.
Housed in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, ELLI encompasses the Intensive English Program, institutional English proficiency testing, the host family program and student resources like a writing lab, study hall, conversation partners and tutoring. The institute also offers workshops for faculty and advisers to improve their communication with international students and oversees the English language proficiency testing for potential GTAs whose first language is not English.
Starting in fall 2021, ELLI will offer a new accelerated program to raise English proficiency for those international students who are just shy of the test scores needed for full matriculation into WVU’s degree programs. Called the Accelerated Mountaineer Program for English as a Second Language, the program consists of credit-bearing ESL support classes combined with GEF coursework for either one or two semesters, depending on initial test scores.
Through this program, students can start acquiring credits for their desired major while simultaneously obtaining the English language support that they need to succeed academically. Along with the coursework, AMP ESL will provide a myriad of services such as tutoring, advising and activities to support AMP ESL students’ transition into education and life in the U.S. university context. The program launch of AMP ESL is timely, as the University has recently revised the English proficiency requirements for international students.
“Helping international students succeed helps the University as a whole integrate more with the world,” said Amy Thompson, chair of the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics and the co-director of finance and strategy for ELLI. “Having strong English language support programs and services helps WVU attract more international students, which opens the door for more internationalization and globalization in our majors and courses. It is imperative that domestic WVU students have the opportunity to interact with students from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds to deepen their understanding of the realities of our current global society.”
The institute is also modernizing the IEP’s curriculum, taking into consideration how technology has transformed students’ experiences with English. The IEP, which was established in 1979, is a four-semester program with seven courses per semester. Five of the courses are in the core areas of vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing and communication skills. Students also select two integrated skills classes with topics such as English for STEM, English for professional purposes, English through technology and American culture.
“IEP students have many integrated skills classes to choose from,” said Susan Braidi, academic co-director of ELLI. “We have recently made the decision to move forward with more academically-focused coursework and integrated skills classes where students can continue to learn the practical skills needed to be successful, such as study habits, reading comprehension strategies, notetaking and giving academic presentations.”
This summer saw the beginning of a multifaceted debate regarding governmental policies affecting international students, which has continued into the fall semester. ELLI wants to play a role in ensuring that international students feel welcome and supported at WVU.
“The message that I would like to disseminate to our international students is that we are doing everything we can to provide a positive educational experience for you – both academically and socially,” Thompson said. “Having students from a variety of racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds strengthens WVU’s overall profile and scholarly output. We appreciate what you bring to our university, and we couldn’t complete our educational mission without you.”For more information about ELLI, the IEP or the new AMP ESL program, please visit elli.wvu.edu or email firstname.lastname@example.org.