Fanshawe opens new English Language Institute
Previously called the ESL program and part of the School of Language and Liberal Studies, it is now an independent unit that has been renamed and reorganized into a program called “English for academic purposes”.
“Our focus is really more on academic English, so being able to listen to lectures and take notes, to read textbooks, do research and write essays, so we’re really trying to help students prepare in a very particular kind of use of language for academic success,” said Kim Cechetto, chair of the English Language Institute.
Another difference is that the number of levels in the program has been significantly reduced from 10 to five. The number of weeks it takes to complete the program have also halved from 16 to eight.
“One of the big advantages of that is if you come as an international student…you don’t have to already join something in process. Also, for students who may not be successful…they would have to go all the way back and repeat 16 weeks,” Cechetto explained.
Before taking the program, students take a test that assesses what level they should be placed based on the English skills that they already have.
The last difference to the program is the way it was designed. Due to a more integrative approach, specific courses are not learned independently, but rather woven together.
“Research in language tells us that students actually learn language better if they’re not just studying grammar and then just studying writing, but they’re trying to put all of that together,” Cechetto said.
Students will also experience a section of applied learning that spans for four hours of the week and enhances their learning by exposing them to different activities in the college and the community. They also participate in group projects that give them the opportunity to use the language skills they are learning.
“It’s getting it out of the pages of the book, out of the backpack and into your everyday living, so students and teachers are really enthusiastic about that new opportunity as well,” Cechetto said.
Once students graduate from the program, it makes language tests or courses no longer mandatory as their skills will be up to par with Western and Fanshawe program requirements.
“Our job is to provide English language support for students who don’t speak English as their first language…that program is designed to prepare students to get their English to a level where they’ll be able to be successful in a career program,” Cechetto said.
In addition to the program, they also aim to promote other things such as providing support and resources for students already in their post-secondary program with a different first language and culture.