International Students Build English Language Skills Through Summer Program

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A group of Korean and Vietnamese college students will soon take their newfound language skills back to their home countries after completing UNCW’s English as a Second Language summer program.

The five-week program, sponsored by the Office of International Programs, offers courses for students who have various levels of English proficiency. Students practice grammar, writing and reading for five hours each day and spend their afternoons partaking in group-based activities to become more comfortable practicing the language.

These relationships extend beyond neighboring desks. Paired with UNCW students, they meet with conversation partners for a few hours each week to further their language skills. These partnerships foster a stronger global mindset for everyone involved.

“Through this experience, students were able to increase their language skills, gain an understanding of American culture and cultivate an international group of friends,” noted ESL Program Director Maike Walbrecht. “Their horizons are opened so much by experiencing American lifestyles and learning about the countries of their classmates. I think their presence here enriches the campus.”

Thirty-one students from Korea and Vietnam took part in this year’s summer program, which included excursions to learn more about the Wilmington area. The marriage of curriculum and activities often plays a large role in students’ decisions to attend the summer program, as it did for Jisoo Song, a first-year student at Dong A University in South Korea.

“I decided that I needed experiences in other countries,” she said, “especially countries where English is the first language. That’s why I came here.” Song, a physical science major, said the summer program will aid her in her future career in sports marketing.

OIP also provided a two-week summer camp for 24 Argentinian high school students. The Summer English Camp, in its fifth year, is a partnership with Centro Educativo Latinoamericano, a high school in Rosário, Argentina. Walbrecht hopes the strong bonds forged with the ESL program will encourage students to pursue a degree program at UNCW and continue studying the language.

“A big part of our teaching is to prepare students to be ready for an academic program,” said Walbrecht. “We are the stepping stone for them to get a UNCW degree.”

--Emily McLamb