Eastern has recently become a host facility for English as a Second Language International. The program was started by the president of a Christian college to prepare students from non-English speaking countries to succeed in higher education. It is promoted throughout Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Stephanie MacTavish, vice president of Asian relations, found out about the program while visiting Trinity Western University in Canada. She then introduced the program to Dr. Chris Hall and President Black, who thought it would be a great way to increase Eastern’s international student population.
Most English as a second language programs only provide short-term language assistance. ESLI is different because it teaches students about American culture as well as language, MacTavish said. One level of the program replicates an American classroom, which involves active participation. After ESLI students complete the last level of the program, they move on to their degree program.
The ESLI program promotes Eastern as a host facility, as many parents worry about safety when their son or daughter is going to another country for college. When they hear about Eastern, they feel more comfortable about sending their children because it is a Christian college located in a nice suburban area, MacTavish said.
The ESLI students participate in counseling, intercultural activities and tutoring. They also interact with the other Eastern students through housing.
“Eastern students are particularly good with international students,” MacTavish said.
MacTavish serves as the link between ESLI and Eastern. She plans to help the students and faculty adjust to the program. ESLI is aware of Eastern’s Christian affiliation, and the hope is to blend the program into the culture of Eastern.
This May, Eastern will start its ESLI program. It will start out small, with about five students participating this summer and about 20 in the fall.
“I think it will be very exciting,” MacTavish said. “Students will learn what it means to be a kingdom citizen.”