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Rockford College’s ESL program changes name to reflect true emphasis and core mission

Tuesday, July 21, 2009  
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For immediate release – 7/14/09
Contact: Christina Valiquette, Rockford College, 815-226-4138


The shift from basic English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching to more advanced instruction at Rockford College is at the crux of a name change for the ESL program there, which will now be called the English Language Institute (ELI) at Rockford College.

Christina Valiquette, director of the institute, says many learners in the program already know a language other than their native tongue, so the idea of English being a “second language” really does not reflect the diversity of the students.

“We live in a global society where intercultural communication and multiple language skills are critical, especially in the workplace,” says Valiquette. “English is just part of the mix.” 
 
As part of its work, the institute takes the approach that the students first need to be taught how to learn and then language instruction follows, which emphasizes a difference between just studying the English language and efficiently acquiring the language, says Valiquette.

“Our students are autonomous learners in that they are taught strategies and habits to be effective language students. Since gaining true fluency in a language takes many years, we give them a solid foundation, momentum, and the awareness for continued learning.”

The institute, which offers a range of full-time or part-time classes and language instruction resources, is one of the oldest and most established in the area, debuting in 1987. It serves about 70 students per year, including 30 in day classes and 40 at night, providing various levels of instruction with an emphasis on advanced skills. Classes are small – typically 10 or fewer students, offering individualized instruction which is important for success. 

Rockford College also has long ties with Regents College in London and Kobe College in Japan, providing a pipeline for study tours and student exchanges. The college’s Kobe-Regents Center for Global Education facilitates international education and works closely with the language institute. 

International students typically have I-20 status from the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service, which allows them to study in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled in a bona fide educational program. Many students in the Rockford College program have relatives or friends in the area, or were recruited here by local companies.   

The college’s English language institute also offers customized programs for businesses whose employees may need help with specialized job-related language skills, and even offers training for supervisors on cross-cultural communication.

Other programs include Conversation Partners, an opportunity for community members to help international students by conversing with them in an informal setting, and Friendship Families where families invite students into their home on an occasional basis.   

For more information on the English Language Institute at Rockford College, call 815-226-4138 or e-mail cvaliquette@rockford.edu.


                                                           
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