||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Students From Mexico Study|
English at UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: June 28, 1999|
A 1979 visit from an official from a university in Mexico led to the creation of an English program at UW-Eau Claire that continues today.
An official of the Instituto Technologico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey in Mexico, a school with whom UW-Eau Claire had an exchange program, talked with Barbara Rolland, who taught French and English as a second/foreign language at UW-Eau Claire.
"He suggested that he wanted to start an English program for his students and faculty in Mexico," Rolland said. "So together we came up with one and it's been happening every year since."
As a result, 55 students from other countries are on campus June 12-July 11, helping the four-week Summer Intensive English Program celebrate its 20th anniversary.
"In 1979, a program like this was important because in Wisconsin the number of international students was small," Rolland said. "We needed to get in touch with other cultures. From the standpoint of the Tec, they had a mission to see that all of their people were able to speak English."
The 26 ITESM universities require that its students are fluent in English before they graduate.
In addition to the Mexican students, students from places such as El Salvador, Honduras, Korea and Japan participate in the program.
"Some faculty come for professional development," said Julie Adler, one of the program organizers and associate lecturer of foreign languages. "Additionally, if they want to get a higher degree they may need to know English better."
Blanca Elizondo, a history teacher from Leon, Mexico, said she came to improve her English so she can start teaching her classes in English.
The program separates the participants into two groups: faculty/professionals and students. Both groups have the same daily schedule of six hours of instruction. Besides those six hours of instruction there are social activities and excursions the participants take part in.
"It's a very intense program," Adler said. "They are immersed daily in American culture."
Participants are given the option to go on weekend excursions to places such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Madison and Valleyfair. A trip to Milwaukee and Chicago is included as part of the program. Then there are weekly activities that everyone has to do such as going to the Chippewa Valley Museum, a show-farm and area industries. In addition, one of the six instructional hours is devoted to special topics.
For the faculty/professionals this can mean job shadowing someone in their field, learning about modern instructional techniques or going on walking tours, Adler said.
"As for the students, their special topics are focused strictly on community exploration," she said. "They go on walking tours of the police and fire station, the YMCA and Sacred Heart places that would be different than they are back home."
The participants are brought into the community as much as possible.
"Each student gets to go to someone's home in the community at least once," said Adler, adding the community has been very receptive and there's been no problem finding people to host the students. "Some get asked back for a second time."
Being able to do a variety of activities has helped the learning process.
"I'm learning a lot of things about American culture that I didn't know," Elizondo said. "In Mexico we think American's are not gentle or nice, but we've learned that is not true."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: June 28, 1999