International Students Study English at Pacific

While Pacific University is seeing record undergraduate enrollment, the English Language Institute (ELI) on the Forest Grove campus also is finding its offerings in high demand.

ELI offers intensive English language and culture options to international students, many of whom will later enroll in undergraduate or professional programs, at Pacific or elsewhere in the United States, said Scot Dobberfuhl, ELI program coordinator.

The ELI program offerings range from the month-long American Language and Culture Program to one- or two-semester exchange programs with foreign universities. In addition, professionals who want to attend graduate schools in the United States, also come to Pacific for the ELI courses.

“Pacific’s ELI is seen as a really attractive option,” Dobberfuhl said. “It’s multicultural; it allows for personal experiences and personal interaction because our class sizes are smaller. “And in some cases, (students’) cultural mission or their government often promotes this program.”

This fall, participation from Japan is up, with most of the Japanese students coming from universities that partner with Pacific’s study abroad programs, Dobberfuhl said. The 12 Japanese exchange students attending the ELI this fall live in residence halls with American roommates and participate in typical college activities, from Outback programs to American football games. Nine students will be here for one semester, with three set to spend the entire academic year at Pacific, Dobberfuhl said.

In addition, 16 students from Saudi Arabia are taking intensive English language classes, coming to the United States on cultural mission scholarships from the Saudi Arabian government, Dobberfuhl said.

“Several of these students have experience teaching or lecturing in Saudi Arabian universities in fields including computer science, engineering, education, even hematology,” he said.

These students often bring their spouses, who also are eligible to take ELI classes, along with children who attend local schools or childcare facilities. They generally find housing in apartments in the surrounding community, he said.

“While most of these students will continue their U.S. education experience somewhere other than Pacific, we welcome the diversity they bring to our classes and the opportunities to share and grow with them,” Dobberfuhl said.

Other classes offered by Pacific’s ELI include a month-long American Language and Culture Program, which is popular with Japanese students during their fall break from their Japanese schooling, Dobberfuhl said. Two groups, totaling 18 students from two different Japanese universities, participated in September in the program with all the students staying with families in western Washington County.

The short-term course involves three days of language classes each week and two days reserved for activities, such as rafting on the Deschutes River, going to the beach or visiting the state fair. Weekends were reserved for time with host families.

The classes at ELI are taught by Kelsey Anderson, Nicole Martinez, Eric Quillan, Rachel Merrick and Monique Grindell. All have master’s degrees in teaching English to non-English speakers, and all have lived and taught in other countries. 

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012