English Language Institute Opens at W&J

WASHINGTON, PA (April 14, 2014)—With its director in place, the English Language Institute (ELI) at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) is opening its doors for an inaugural class of students looking to expand their foreign language capabilities and experience college life in America.

The English Language Institute provide state-of-the-art instruction in English language and academic skills necessary for students enrolled in an American institution of higher education.

Under the direction of Dana Poole, who comes to W&J from Indiana University of Pa., students in the program will experience full integration in campus life, an intense study of English and its application in an academic environment, and courses in American culture, history and politics. In addition to lifelong language skills, students will be prepared to pursue a high-quality liberal arts education and particiapte in an engaged, diverse community.

Poole has a Ph.D. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, with a focus on the socialization experience of international students, and she has more than ten years of experience working with students studying English both in the United States and abroad. She said seven of the students in the ELI class are scholars from the Brazilian Science Mobility Program, which provides funding to undergraduate and graduate Brazilian science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students for study at colleges and universities in the United States. One student in the first cohort is from China.

The students will participate in two nine-week sessions. First-session classes began March 31; the second semester ends Aug. 8, with a short break in between. Classes will be taught by adjunct professors.

“Our program is called a bridge program, which is for students who are close to mastering the English language. The program is made up of speaking and listening, fundamental English skills and grammar, and English for academic purposes,” Poole said. “We will help these students improve their study skills and hopefully help them booster their test scores.”

The program is designed to provide participants with the English skills to matriculate at a U.S. university or college, including hopefully at W&J, Poole said, which fits well with W&J’s international efforts. She said the intercultural experiences are important for the participants and the current students on campus. Poole’s goal is to have the eight students become integrated into campus life at W&J, participating in extracurricular activities such as clubs and intramurals.

“This new program will bring international students to campus to improve the English language skills of the students with the intent of matriculating at W&J at a later date. The ELI will follow up at the beginning of the fall semester with more student arrivals. This program mirrors the experiences of many of our W&J students abroad, where they are part of the campus community and take courses in local language,” Poole added.

“My focus is on something authentic,” Poole said. “Part of my goal is to see the American friends the participants make here come to the ELI graduation. I want to see joyful things…and make our ELI students happy and prepared.”