English as a Second Language

January 10, 2011 at 9:48 am Leave a comment

My name is Jeni Kets, and I am the chair of the ESL Department, and I’ve been working with international students for the past four years at IAA.

The ESL Department is focused on several specific objectives in serving our students here at IAA. First, we work hard to help students reach their artistic and academic goals through the development of their English language skills. This is the key to their success in all facets of their lives here in the US. We facilitate this by providing as much opportunity for immersion in their classes and in the dorms as possible so that students will be able to write, think and speak in English. We seek to cultivate a sense of confidence and comfort with English, so that our students can thrive in American academic culture. Developing this confidence in English also helps students to integrate successfully into the wider student population here, which allows students to have a richer and more fulfilling experience.

Once they have developed their language skills, we look to mainstream students as soon as possible in order to give them the invaluable opportunity to work more closely with native speaking students and non-ESL academic faculty.  In short, we strive to give our students as much opportunity to gain and polish the essential communication skills they need as students here and beyond.

Our most successful students are those who meet us halfway in our mission by seeking out opportunities to speak English outside of the classroom and to meet as many students as possible. These are individuals who break out of their shells and take what many of our students perceive as a risk in putting themselves out into the greater community in order to define who they are beyond the ESL label. I can tell you from experience that stepping out and speaking your second language to native speakers can be a nerve-wracking experience. Yet once they have, these students soon discover that American students are often just as shy about speaking to them. Breaking the ice is the toughest part, but it is incredibly rewarding.

This summer, we will be offering an ESL summer intensive for students who will be moving into intermediate and advanced levels in the fall. Students can earn one credit toward graduation, develop and polish their academic writing and vocabulary, as well as receive weekly TOEFL prep. We will also be offering fun weekly trips and activities to allow them to relax and have a little fun as well! This program is intended to help students meet the UC graduation requirements and lighten their academic load the following year.

The first set of students that I worked with back in 2007 when I was a new teacher here will graduate this June. It is hard to believe that those beginning students, many of whom were so shy and quiet, are now confident young men and women ready to attend universities and conservatories. I am proud of my students both past and present and hope that the ESL department at IAA has served them well in reaching their goals and realizing their dreams.

To learn more about the ESL Summer Intensive visit our website.

Entry filed under: campus culture, ESL, Summer, travel. Tags: , , , , , , .

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