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.”