University of Lynchburg is expanding opportunities for international students through a language program that will allow them to hone their English speaking and writing skills while earning credits toward a degree.
LC’s English as a Second Language (ESL) transition program will support international students as they develop their English language skills by taking courses in language studies during their first year. The ESL curriculum has a total of eight courses structured into two levels, intermediate and advanced. The level of students’ language proficiency will determine the number of courses they will need to take. In addition, students will also be enrolled in courses (12 credits) that are a part of the regular course curriculum. A combination of language studies and core courses places international students on the pathway to degree completion.
“With the ESL program, international students who previously could not have attended University of Lynchburg will now have a chance at a college education,” said Dr. Alex Akulli, director of LC’s Center for Global Education. “Our small classes and individual attention will enhance their learning experience and help them succeed,” he said. Cultural immersion is another goal of the program, says Akulli – a benefit not only for the international students, but also for other LC students. “Interacting with people from cultures different from your own provides unique opportunities to grow in ways that would otherwise not be possible,” he explained.
“We are looking forward to furthering our global initiative for recruiting,” said Sharon Walters-Bower, director of admissions. “With our recent growth of enrolling international students, we believe that having a language support program will help us attract and serve an expanded population of international students.” She added that academic scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 annually are available to eligible international students.
After completing her first year at University of Lynchburg, Jingwen Chen of Foshan, China, says her ESL classes have made all the difference. “From Chinglish to English, from guessing to understanding, from shy to a confident speaker. I am proud of the progress I have made, thanks to my ESL classes. Now I can better understand what my professors and classmates are talking about, and I can answer their questions clearly. Thank you, University of Lynchburg for my ESL classes!”
The visiting scholars program will also benefit from the ESL training as scholars visiting the LC campus can participate in the ESL courses. “They can improve their English speaking skills while adding another dimension to the international students’ learning experience,” Akulli said. During the past four years, scholars from various parts of the world have come to University of Lynchburg to teach, conduct collaborative research, and learn about western teaching techniques.
Dr. Lisa Pierce serves as the ESL director and international student adviser. She earned her PhD in linguistics with a concentration in phonetics, phonology, and Second Language Acquisition (SLA) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds a master’s degree in linguistics from George Mason University, and one in international education from George Washington University. Dr. Pierce holds a BS in French language and civilization from the Pennsylvania State University. “I am happy to be the director of LC’s ESL program,” said Dr. Pierce. “Working with our international students is always a rewarding experience.”