ECU Language Academy to begin this summer
(Mar. 3, 2010)
A new program at East Carolina University will provide intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. The East Carolina University Language Academy will begin with summer classes in June.
After completion of the highest level of classes offered through ECULA, the student will have fulfilled the language requirement for admission to the university; however, other academic requirements may still need to be met.
The ECULA already has received a few applications, according to Debbie O’Neal, interim director of the East Carolina University Language Academy.
“We’re in the process of evaluating those applicants. Our office, International Affairs, is managing the academic part of the program, and the Office of Continuing Studies will handle the business side,” she said.
ECULA classes, which will have a maximum of 15 students, will range from advanced beginner level to superior level and will meet five days per week, four hours per day. Four content areas will be focused on oral communication skills; study and note-taking skills; reading and vocabulary; and writing for the college environment. “The class readings will be about college culture and will be multi-cultural based,” O’Neal said.
“The students will have complete access to the university campus,” O’Neal said. “We’ll try to have them with matriculating international students. Oral conversation classes will focus on learning to communicate in every day conversation. Plus there may be some field trips based on the needs and wants of the students.”
The inaugural session of ECULA will begin June 7 and end July 30. The deadline for applying for the first session is May 7. All sessions will be eight weeks and will coincide with the university academic calendar. Tuition, room and meal plan will cost $4,000 for the eight-week session.
Like O’Neal, all ECULA instructors will have master’s degrees in teaching English as a Second Language. “Some graduate students in the ESL program here may do some teaching, but they will not be the primary instructor,” she said.
O’Neal, who is a faculty member in the English Department and also in the Office of International Affairs, has taught ESL for years, including a stint in Philadelphia at the American Language Academy and at a previous program at ECU.
She pointed out that ECU is launching a full English-language academy and is one of five UNC-system institutions with a full time program, including a new program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. N.C. State University has a similar program but it is in the summer only. “There are not a lot of options for these students east of Raleigh,” she said.
O’Neal sees the optimum ECULA student as a prospective university student who is fully literate in his or her native language and hopefully interested in attending ECU, but that’s not a requirement. All university students whose native languages are not English have to prove their proficiency by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), she said. “We are aiming to help those students who do not meet the minimum TOEFL requirements,” O’Neal said.
She added that not all ECULA students might be future college graduates. Some may have graduated college in their native country and who are in the United States because of their spouses’ jobs.
“We’re also interested in spouses of international employees in the community who might not want to go to a community college class that is often geared more for vocational work. The students here will have to be have fully literate in their native language,” she said.