Category: English Language Institute

ELI Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to this session’s ELI Tuition Scholarship winner: Shu from Taiwan!

Every session the ELI awards tuition scholarships to current full-time students. The students must attend 80% of their ELI classes and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all ELI classes. Students must also write a short essay explaining why they want the scholarship.

If you are a current ELI student and want to apply for a scholarship for next session, you can find the application on the ELI Forms page.

Intercultural Experience Showcase

On Tuesday, April 24, UA students from the Capstone International Program’s 202: Introduction to Global Studies – Experiential Learning class presented videos highlighting their experiences with international students studying in UA’s English Language Institute (ELI).

As part of the CIP 202 course, UA students participated weekly in ELI courses, with course topics ranging from Current Events to Top 40 American Music. In the courses, UA students developed their intercultural competence, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures, while working with students from 17 countries spanning five continents.

The objective of Frannie James, who designed the course, was that “all students who have taken CIP 202 will be forever curious about difference – will forever celebrate their lifelong experiences of difference. They will have the cultural self-awareness, the culture-general knowledge, the curiosity, the motivation, the empathy, and the cognitive flexibility to build and sustain relationships across cultures – socially, academically, and professionally.”

The ELI students also benefit from the interaction with UA students. The ELI students share their cultural knowledge and expertise while learning more about U.S. culture and university life.

The CIP 202: Introduction to Global Studies – Experiential Learning is an introductory course for The University of Alabama’s Global Studies Certificate. It sets the stage so that a student can approach all endeavors with an international perspective.

 

Top 40 American Music Class

ELI Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to this session’s ELI Tuition Scholarship winner: Nimian from Nicaragua!

Every session the ELI awards tuition scholarships to current full-time students. The students must attend 80% of their ELI classes and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all ELI classes. Students must also write a short essay explaining why they want the scholarship.

If you are a current ELI student and want to apply for a scholarship for next session, you can find the application on the ELI Forms page.

Colombian student experiences Crimson Tide culture through English Language Institute

Caroline Japal

By Shahriyar Emami | 01/24/2018 10:02pm | From The Crimson White

Santiago Mejia Villegas, a native Colombian, was first exposed to American football, a rare sport in Colombia, during his time on the Alabama campus.“It is impossible to live in the campus during the football season and not getting involved in the Crimson Tide! I had the chance to go to a couple of games in the stadium as well as to the welcoming parade and live that amazing moment like a new fan of Alabama,” he said. “I have made a few friends with whom have been in some cities nearby or in some bars and restaurants here in Tuscaloosa,” he said.

Villegas’ first language is Spanish, and he’s in Tuscaloosa to study English and business through the University of Alabama’s English Language Institute (ELI).

“English is one of the most widely spoken and written languages in the world,” Emily Brown, an English Language Institute instructor at The University of Alabama said. “One of our overall goals is to try and prepare our students for academic study in an American university setting by providing them with the cultural knowledge and awareness they will need to thrive both academically and socially.”

Villegas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and continued his postgraduate studies in marketing and finance in Colombia.

“Living here in Alabama but mostly in the UA campus has been an incredible opportunity …
There are so many differences between the way we live in [my] country and the way we live here because we are temporarily a student and we have to face some situations like get used to the food, to stay at the dorm because we don’t have a car or friends to go out with… but at the end everything has become in a new valuable experience,” Villegas said.

During his time at the University, Villegas has been active in the ELI, other international student groups and community church events. This past year, Villegas attended a Thanksgiving event hosted by a local church group where he said he learned cultural pieces he couldn’t have learned in a classroom.

“There it was wonderful people and delicious food and it became in a very good opportunity to know and understand the origin of the holiday and its meaning for the American culture. It was also a place where we found good and friendly people who afterwards has helped us in some casual questions like where to find a barber shop close the campus or stuff like that,” Villegas said.

While there are many people involved in the ELI program, Villegas said he believes not enough people know about it or are even aware of what they do in the program. He said he finds it easier to talk to people in the program because they speak multiple languages.

“We designed [the program] specifically for non-native speakers who live in the Tuscaloosa area and want to improve their language skills,” Brown said.

Brown said the program provides learners with the confidence they need in the English language to pursue opportunities they might not otherwise get the chance to pursue, whether that be personally, professionally, academically or socially.

“For native speakers who don’t quite understand, I tell them [ELI] is similar to when maybe they learned Spanish or French in high school or college. It’s different, however, because our classrooms often include students who speak a variety of different languages,” Brown said.

“Everything about the culture here is different and interesting in some ways, but definitely the friendly character of the people in Alabama is something I will never forget,” Villegas said.

ELI Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to this session’s ELI Tuition Scholarship winners: Cristina from Spain and Nimian from Nicaragua!

Every session the ELI awards tuition scholarships to current full-time students. The students must attend 80% of their ELI classes and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all ELI classes. Students must also write a short essay explaining why they want the scholarship.

If you are a current ELI student and want to apply for a scholarship for next session, you can find the application on the ELI Forms page.

ELI Students Watch the National Championship

ELI students watched and cheered The University of Alabama’s American football team on to victory January 8, 2018. The football team won their 17th National Championship by beating The University of Georgia 26-23 in overtime. The exciting game was televised on the movie screen in the Ferguson Student Center. Some of the students had watched Alabama football games before coming to Tuscaloosa so that they could participate in this important part of the university’s culture. Roll Tide!

Proyecta 100,000

For three consecutive years (2015, 2016, & 2017), The University of Alabama (UA) English Language Institute (ELI) has been selected to host Mexican learners to study English as a Second Language for four weeks in the fall as part of the “Training Program for Students – Proyecta 100,000.” Each year the Mexican students have been impressed by the beautiful university campus, the diversity of students at the ELI, and the professional English instructors. In the articles in Spanish linked below, three Proyecta students describe their positive learning experiences at The University of Alabama.

“The University of Alabama” by Ulises Escobar Roman

“Roll Tide” by Karla Janet Hernandez Ortiz

“Broaden Our Horizons” by Dr. Ana Maria Guerrero Orozco

Proyecta Students at the ELI Welcome Activity

 

Proyecta students with some ELI friends at the certificate ceremony

A Sweet Taste of Culture for International Students

International students experience American Christmas traditions – decorating cookies, making gingerbread houses, and singing carols – for the first time.

See the photos and the finished products at the UA News Center.

Students with UA’s English Language Institute gathered at B.B. Comer Hall to decorate Christmas cookies, make gingerbread houses, and sing Christmas carols for the first time.

 

Abdulmosen Shunib, a 21-year-old ELI student from Saudi Arabia, said the experience was neat. “This is my first time doing this. I like it.”

 

Sojin Thoi, a 23-year-old ELI student from South Korea, said she came to UA to study abroad. “I’ve never tried to make cookies and decorate them. It is so interesting. We celebrate Christmas in Korea, but we just share gifts.”

 

Bugra Bugdayci, a 24-year-old ELI student from Turkey, said being at UA has been an experience. “Making cookies is different. It is tradition. Cultural.” 

 

Cookies decorated with the Turkish flag. “I want to know who dares to eat cookie with the Turkish flag!?” said Muath Mumani, laughing and raising his finger in the air.

 

The finished product: international Christmas cookies.

 

Mio Ueoka, a 21-year-old ELI student from Japan, said this is her first time making Christmas cookies and her first Christmas. “I like it. Here at the University of Alabama it is interesting because I meet other students from all over the world.”

 

Completed gingerbread house.

 

Muath Mumani, a 39-year-old ELI student from Jordan, said he enrolled in UA’s ELI program to improve his English so he can better serve his clients at his law practice. 

 

Dogga Demir, a 28-year-old ELI student from Turkey, said the main holiday celebration in Turkey is New Year’s so Christmas is new to him. “It is a lot of eating, resting, singing, feasting. What is not to like?”

 

Pride in the creation of first-time gingerbread homes.

 

And, of course, Santa made an appearance.

University Place Elementary Students Learn about World Cultures

Tuscaloosa News

By Drew Taylor / Staff Writer

Wearing traditional Chinese garb and a panda hat, Jing Li stood Friday in the middle of a circle of intrigued students from University Place Elementary School.

As the students watched, Li began to spin, kick and softly move across the floor, performing different martial art forms, such as tai chi and changquan.

In the midst of her performance, Li stopped.

“You want to see more?” Li asked.

“Yeah,” the group shouted with excitement.

Li’s performance was one part of a showcase at the school Friday morning that included representatives from 16 different countries to commemorate International Education Week. The showcase, which was organized between the school and the English Language Institute at the University of Alabama, was called “World Friends Day” and included people explaining their cultures and what makes their country unique.

“We want all of our students to have some kind of experience with all cultures,” said Patsy McGahey, science, technology, engineering and mathematics director at University Place. “We want them to be global citizens.”

The forum was organized after Monica Hollie, a receptionist at ELI and a parent of two students at University Place, approached the school about holding an international forum there. ELI works with University of Alabama students who come from across the globe in improving their English skills. The group normally holds forums at different schools throughout the year to teach children about different cultures.

Hollie said that as much as the forum is for the children, it also helps out the ELI fellows.

“Their first language is not English, and they are here to improve their skills in that area,” Hollie said.

Zion Doughty, a third-grader at University Place, said he liked learning about different countries, such as Jordan.

“It seems really cool,” Doughty said.

McGahey said that University Place has many students who live at or below the poverty level, and they may not have had a chance to see the world or understand how other people live in the world.

“By exposing them to other countries, it broadens their experience to what they can do later in life,” she said.

Hollie said that more than just exposure to cultures, forums like the one on Friday help children relate to others in the world, in addition to making people from other cultures feel like they are understood in the process.

“Sometimes, it can be their first time to come to the U.S.,” Hollie said. “It makes it easier for them to know that a few Americans are eager to learn, not quick to criticize.”

ELI Grad Hopes to ‘Copy and Paste’ UA Experience for Son

By David Miller

College football games in the Southeastern Conference can start as late as 8:30 p.m. CST, and sometimes push through midnight.

It’s a minor inconvenience for University of Alabama football supporters, whether they’re in Bryant-Denny Stadium or watching the game remotely. Time constraints, travel, lodging and ticket expenses – it’s all worth it to see the Crimson Tide win – and win a lot – right?

In Saudi Arabia, eight hours ahead of Alabama and the Central time zone, Yahya Al-Bokhedaim and his son, Shahaeen, fight sleep each week to watch UA’s prime-time matchups. The CBS games offer a reprieve from the overnight viewings, but during late games, Shahaeen often leaves for school without knowing the final score.

Shahaeen, who recently enrolled in UA’s English Language Institute, will no longer wonder who won the game – or Alabama’s margin of victory. He’s taking the same path Yahya took in the early 1980s: learn both the English language and chemical engineering at UA.

“I want to follow that same step as my father,” Shahaeen said. “I can do that [at UA]. I want to follow his steps and be better than him.”

Yahya arrived at UA in 1983, just a year after the ELI was established. He was one of five Saudi students sponsored by oil company Saudi Aramco. Yahya has worked for Saudi Aramco since earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1988.

Yahya soaked in American culture and Southern hospitality during his five years on campus, a transition that was aided by a young, energetic ELI staff, he said.

“There were a lot of close friendships between the students and the faculty,” Yahya said. “Some of the faculty were pursuing their master’s or PhD, so that helped develop excellent relationships. They taught us the game of football, and once we learned, we all grew to love it. This was part of the socialization with some of the teachers.”

Yahya visited UA during homecoming week to help move Shahaeen to campus. It was Yahya’s first visit to campus since 1998 and only his second return to his alma mater since he’d graduated. Campus has grown, and there are “so many sidewalks and bike lanes,” but the same charm and “sweet home” he experienced in the 1980s existed the moment he stepped on campus, he said.

A familiar face greeted him when he visited the ELI.

“I was so happy to see the growth of the ELI – it’s become an excellent center,” Yahya said. “And it surprised me when I saw Mr. (Bill) Wallace, who is now the director. He used to be a teacher at ELI, but he remembered who I was. For them, it’s been 30 years, and they’ve had so many students come and go, so for him to have this memory of me shows how much he cares about people.

“And that’s why we’re here – we’re trying to copy and paste my experience for Shahaeen.”

Yahya and Shahaeen Al-Bokhedaim