The University of Delaware's English Language Institute (ELI) is among the top-ranked programs in the United States for instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL).
With an enrollment that has skyrocketed in the past few years from 200 students to over 600 students from dozens of countries each eight-week session, the ELI plays an important role in globalizing the UD campus.
Founded in 1979, the ELI offers a variety of high-quality intensive English programs for degree-seeking students, business and legal professionals, English language teachers and general English language learners.
"Our goal is to create an environment that is welcoming and fosters student learning," says Scott Stevens, ELI director. "We're pleased that, no matter what their nationality, our students feel a strong sense of community here and often form lasting friendships."
With seven locations on, or adjacent to, UD's main campus in Newark, Del., the ELI offers small classes of 10 to 14 students, creating a comfortable learning environment.
Its newly christened Self-Access Learning Center bustles with activity as students from around the world gather to improve their knowledge of English, honing listening, speaking and writing skills. Some are pursuing intensive training in preparation for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFEL) and eventual matriculation as a UD student.
The center has an extensive range of ESL software and captioned videos, as well as a library of printed and audio readers by skill and proficiency level.
"It's helpful — it's very good," said Marisol Mendoza of the facility. She is a Conditional Admissions Program (CAP) student at UD. She wants to pursue an MBA at UD and then go back home to Ayacucho, Peru, and start her own agribusiness.
Seated next to Mendoza is An'aam Alsalman. A native of Saudi Arabia, she is working on a master's degree in special education. When her degree is completed, she plans to pursue a doctorate in language and speech pathology.
"For a new student, this is good practice for listening to, and learning English," Alsalman said.
At the computer beside Alsalman is Eri Yasukawa from Kobe Shoin University in Osaka, Japan. She and fellow student Miku Minohata are working to improve their English listening skills. They hope to teach English in Japan someday.
The enrollees at the ELI‚ are diverse not only in terms of their native countries and cultures, but also their motivations for learning English. Some have either matriculated at UD, or plan to, and need to boost their language proficiency. Others have come to Delaware for a short period to immerse themselves in American culture. Business professionals take courses through their companies or corporations; and visiting scholars and their spouses gain skills to more easily navigate life in a new country.
The ELI also ensures that international students who are teaching assistants (TAs) at UD are ready for the classroom through UD's International Teaching Assistant (ITA) program, one of only a handful in the nation. It is sponsored by the Provost's Office.
"If the TAs have accent problems, for example, we help them," says instructor Ken Hall, who has a graduate degree in linguistics. "Nobody can be a TA without taking this training and passing the required tests. This ensures that UD students can understand their teachers, and it gives the TAs the language confidence to succeed."
The ELI is a hub of international activity at UD, where learning and friendship intertwine. "Thanks to caring teachers, a great campus, and excellent programs, international students often view the ELI as a 'second home,'" Stevens says.
The Festival of Nations, held during International Education Week in November, celebrated the rich diversity of cultures at UD with fashion and talent showcases.
From top, far right: Paola Corredor appears in the sari of India and a jeweled maang tika in her hair. Next, Marisol Mendoza (left) is shown in a poncho and the chullo (hat) from the Andes Mountains of Peru and Wafaa Khalifah from Saudia Arabia wears the traditional black abaya. Mathieu Plourde, of UD Information Technologies — Client Support and Services, shows his Canadian spirit.
In the large photo, Miku Minohata wears the yukata, a casual summer kimono from Japan.