Nov 192003
 
Authors: Alicia Leonardi

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

Program.

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

TOEFL.

“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

weekends.”

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

– everything.”

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

nationwide disappeared.”

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

of class.

Japanese exchange student Chifumi Suzuki said she enjoys the

IEP, but she sometimes feels isolated from the rest of the CSU

student body.

“I can’t get football tickets because I can’t register,” Suzuki

said. “I am not CSU student; I am IEP student at CSU.”

 

 

 

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