A.C.E. professional development history was made when the A.C.E. Language Institute at Montana State University hosted Dr. Keith Folse to give a full-day workshop on best practices in vocabulary instruction on July 31, 2015. A world renowned TESOL leader, author, researcher, and speaker, Keith has taught ESL/EFL and teacher training for 35 years in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Japan, has written 57 books (on vocabulary, reading, speaking, writing, grammar, listening, and assessment), has won many teaching and research awards, and is a full professor at the University of Central Florida.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to network with other ESL teachers locally and around the state, A.C.E.-MSU invited colleagues from the Intensive English Programs at the University of Montana and MSU-Billings. In addition, the EIKEN secondary Japanese teachers also joined, and Keith Folse traveled to Yellowstone National Park with the EIKEN group the following day. Taking place in MSU’s elegant new Jake Jabs College of Business building, the workshop included 55 participants.
A group of A.C.E. teachers and administrators also met privately with Dr. Folse, who commented that our inclusion of vocabulary instruction in the curriculum is “cutting edge” and “light years ahead of other programs!”
Right: URI Oceanography Dean Bruce Corliss poses in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on July 20. (Photo by Nancy Stricklin)
A.C.E. Language Institute at The University of Rhode Island is located on URI Campus in Kingston, Rhode Island. The mission at the LI is to provide students with the English language skills, cultural knowledge, and experience needed to effectively communicate in academia and the workplace, as well as to provide opportunities for personal growth. The University of Rhode Island is a major research institution in a small, beautiful place with really big thinking – as evidenced by the recent historic developments with Cuba. The university is also offering a study abroad option to Cuba in Spring 2016.
This year, seven Mexican students from four universities in Mexico were selected by the Mexico Department of Higher Studies to study intensive English in the United States for four weeks as part of the “100,000 Strong Program”, known as Proyecta 100,000. In June and July they studied at A.C.E.’s Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University in levels 3, 4 and 5, as well as integrating into Listening, Communication and Grammar (LCG) and Reading, Writing and Grammar (RWG) classes. Five of them also volunteered to take conversation classes. Over the four weeks they attended over 110 hours of intensive English classes!
Not content with only having American food during their stay, they were craving authentic Mexican fare. When they heard that A.C.E. was hosting an Iftar Bonfire to break the fast during the holy week of Ramadan, they insisted on preparing the whole dinner for the 30+ guests. What started as a casual get-together transformed into a moonlit festival of international nations. Through conversation, food, dance and laughter, all attending were able to share and enjoy the richness of their cultures.
The students met with the Consul of Mexico in Seattle; watched the Fremont Solstice Fair, Gay Pride Parade in Capitol Hill, and the 4th of July Parade on Bainbridge Island; danced salsa, banda, rock and club; rowed, paddled and nearly capsized canoes; went bowling; volunteered their time to a non-profit; and traveled to Bellingham and later left for trips to the east coast and California. Their infectious love of life and inquisitive behavior was felt and admired by their fellow students, teachers and coordinators at A.C.E. and SPU.
As second language educators, we are constantly questioning how to help make language learning memorable, meaningful, and “real.” With these aims in mind, one of the final projects for the Level 6 students at A.C.E. at URI is to answer and ask questions in English during a mock interview. This past week students in the Academic Speaking course met with Nancy Stricklin, the Assistant to the Provost for Global Strategies and Academic Partnerships at URI to interview for a job, internship, or scholarship program of their choice.
In preparation for their professional interview, students researched various career options and job openings and practiced common interview questions in the United States. They discussed cultural differences in hiring practices, consulted each other on their interview outfits, and practiced the art of the firm handshake. In order to help students prepare, we spent class time role-playing the parts of both interviewer and interviewee. Some critical questions that arose during this time were “Is it okay to ask for some time to think?” and “How should I ask for clarification about a word or question?” Students helped each other to strategize and to prepare thoughtful, personalized answers to the ever-challenging, “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” They also practiced thinking on their feet with occasional “quirky” questions like, “If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?”
Level 6 student Natalia noted after her mock interview for an Engineering internship, “To have the opportunity to do this assignment was very constructive because it is an experience that will live during our stay in the United States. The support materials given to preparation and tips for the interview were very good and useful for our future. Personally, I had already done some interviews in Brazil and I feel confident for this kind of activity, but facing the fact of doing it in another language is especially a different challenge. So, no doubt, it is a very enriching experience which the A.C.E. course fosters to the international students.”