In Alder Hall’s computer lab, students chat and busily type
away. Overhead, a John Denver quote hangs. It reads: “We are all on
the same path no matter what language we speak.”
These 53 students know Denver’s words are true. They came to CSU
from 19 different countries to study with the Intensive English
The IEP, which celebrates its 25th anniversary today, has a dual
purpose. It helps international students become proficient in
English so they can take regular CSU classes and also serves as a
training ground for education majors.
International students who do not get a high enough score on the
Test of English as a Foreign Language study with the IEP until they
either complete the program or get a passing score on the
“They like it. They say they’ve learned a lot and there is a
strong community,” IEP instructor Tom Panter said. “All the
students hang out together, buy apartments together and hang out on
The only complaint Panter hears from students is that they have
too much homework.
“It takes up pretty much all of their time on purpose,” Panter
said. “It’s called intense for a reason. They don’t have time for
anything but English.”
Hide Toshi Isobe, an exchange student from Kansai Gaidai
University in Japan, said he only has class in the morning but
spends his entire afternoon on homework.
Like many Japanese children, Isobe has been studying English
since junior high school. In addition to refining his English
skills, Isobe said CSU has shown him a few of the many cultural
differences between here and Japan.
“Everything is big in America,” Isobe said. “Houses, pizza, milk
Most instructors in the IEP are graduate students in the
Teaching English as a Second Language-Teaching English as a Foreign
Language program. Occasionally, undergraduate English education
majors will also help out with teaching.
Panter, a second-year graduate student, said his TESL-TEFL
classes show proper teaching methods and linguistics, but he has
learned the most through teaching practice.
“Just talk slower, repeat yourself and use a limited
vocabulary,” Panter said. “It is less of a science and more the
experience of doing it.” He plans to continue using his skills next
year when he moves to Japan to teach English.
Enrollment has dropped in Intensive English Programs around the
country since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Margaret Gough, director of the IEP, said this is because the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created so many obstacles
to obtaining student visas.
“Although enrollment has declined we are still viable,” Gough
said. “We’re proud. In this economic downturn, 20 percent of IEP’s
American students who want to help out with the program can sign
up to be conversational partners. They will work one-on-one with
IEP students in an English listening and speaking class once a week
for five weeks.
Students can also volunteer to be conversation group leaders who
meet with three to four international students once a week outside
Japanese exchange student Chifumi Suzuki said she enjoys the
IEP, but she sometimes feels isolated from the rest of the CSU
“I can’t get football tickets because I can’t register,” Suzuki
said. “I am not CSU student; I am IEP student at CSU.”