Category: English Language Institute

ELI Welcomes Fulbright Students

This spring and summer the English Language Institute (ELI) is hosting 14 Fulbright Long-Term English students. These scholars study 20 hours of intensive English per week, as well as learn about US society and graduate school culture through seminars and courses.

The scholars will continue studying at the The University of Alabama’s ELI program through August. Many of the scholars will then join graduate programs in the United States.

The scholars represent 12 countries: Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Burma, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Panama, and South Korea. The ELI is pleased to partner with Fulbright to host and support these students.

ELI Students Join Tuscaloosa’s Sakura Festival

ELI Students Performing at Sakura Festival

Japanese students from the English Language Institute (ELI) at The University of Alabama joined the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities 37th annual Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival this spring.

The students led activities highlighting Japanese culture, such as writing names in Japanese, origami demonstrations, traditional dancing, and “fishing” for toys with children.

The ELI students from Japan enjoyed the festivities and said that they enjoyed interacting with the children most of all.

The Sakura Festival is held in Tuscaloosa each year to celebrate the return of spring and Japanese culture.

ELI Students at Sakura Festival

ELI Students at Sakura Festival

ELI Students Performing at Sakura Festival

ELI Students Performing at Sakura Festival

English Language Institute Celebrates 40th Anniversary

A mural painted by ELI students in 1982, when the English Language Institute opened

English Language Institute Celebrates 40th Anniversary

This year, 2022, marks the 40th anniversary of the English Language Institute (ELI) at The University of Alabama!

The program began in 1982 and has since hosted over 7,000 students from over 100 countries.

“It is exciting to be a part of a program that changes students’ lives, helps their education and careers, and provides the opportunity to learn about and appreciate other cultures,” says the ELI’s Director, Amy Taylor.

It is common for former students from all over the world to come back and visit the program. For alumni and current students, the ELI is a home away from home.

With professional teachers and warm and supportive staff members, ELI students often talk about what they enjoy and why they are studying at the ELI:

Joseph from Cameroon – “I like the ELI because since I’ve been here, I have met people from many countries.”

Mareth from Colombia – “I like the ELI because here there are good teachers.”

Maria from Mexico – “I really love the university because it is very pretty, and I am knowing about new cultures.”

Fuka from Japan – “I want to improve my English to get a good job in an English-speaking country.”

Bora from Turkey – “I want to improve my English, and I want to study at The University of Alabama.”

On the 40th anniversary, the English Language Institute appreciates both its former and current students and looks forward to welcoming new students.

Kansai Gaidai Students Celebrate Earth Day

Kansai Gaidai Students Celebrate Earth Day

Kansai Gaidai students from the Capstone International Center’s English Language Institute participated in Tuscaloosa Sister Cities International’s annual “Spring Greening” clean-up at the Narashino Grove in tribute to Earth Day.


The Narashino Grove is located in downtown Tuscaloosa just off Lurleen Wallace Boulevard between I-359 ramps, near McDonald’s restaurant. The cherry trees were a gift from Narashino to Tuscaloosa in 1986, when the partnership between the cities began. This year will mark the 36th anniversary of the partnership. Students trimmed the cherry trees as well as replenished the mulch at the base of the trees. They also picked up trash.

The Kansai Gaidai students have also volunteered at the 5th Annual Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival and the 36th Annual Sakura Cherry Blossom Festival where they practiced origami and Japanese calligraphy. Kansai Gaidai University is a private Japanese university known for its focus on foreign languages, study abroad, and Asian Studies programs. Their stay continues a long history between the University of Alabama and Kansai Gaidai University.

ELI and UA Student-Athletes

ELI Student Loeiza on UA's Wheelchair Basketball Team

During the Fall 2021 semester, the English Language Institute (ELI) had five UA student-athletes join its classes:

  • Bernardo Bondra De Almeida from Brazil on the UA Swimming and Diving Team
  • Mohamed Ahmed Farouk from Egypt on the UA Swimming and Diving Team
  • Loeiza Le Roux from France on the UA Wheelchair Basketball Team
  • Filip Planinsek from Slovenia on the UA Tennis Team
  • German Samfalov from Ukraine on the UA Tennis Team
    To support UA’s student-athletes beyond the classroom, the ELI scheduled an activity to root for Loeiza and the other women on UA’s Wheelchair Basketball Team. Around 30 ELI students and faculty members attended and cheered the team on to a win.

    The ELI is proud to support UA’s student-athletes.

    From ELI to UA

    ELI student from Venezuela receives her English Proficiency Certificate

    Paola Sanabria Penuela was on one of the last planes out of Colombia before the borders closed due to the pandemic in March 2020.

    Paola, originally from Venezuela, spent the summer in Huntsville with her mother and stepfather before starting ELI classes in August.

    Ten months later, Paola completed the entire ELI program with good grades and earned an ELI Certificate of Proficiency, which can replace the standardized English test score required for international admission to The University of Alabama.

    Paola will begin her undergraduate degree at UA this fall and hopes to become a physiotherapist. For her, “UA is a great place to study because people are friendly, and the campus is amazing!”

    Like Paola, every year a number of ELI students successfully complete their Intensive English studies and are accepted into UA.

    Intercultural Experience Showcase

    Intercultural Experience Showcase

    On Tuesday, April 13, University of Alabama students presented posters highlighting their experiences from the CIP 202 course, Introduction to Global and Cultural Perspectives. This is an intercultural experience course that offers UA students the chance to meet with international students from all over the world. The UA students join English Language Institute (ELI) students to discuss cultural and current topics. The course provides the opportunity for the students to develop their intercultural competence, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people of other cultures.

    Many of the students expressed that their biggest fear before joining the course was that they would say something inappropriate. However, once the course began, students quickly overcame this fear and began to form connections with the international students. UA students expressed surprise by how easily they could communicate with students from other countries and the many similarities they shared. Several UA students commented that this was their favorite class of the semester. As one student put it, it is a “life experience” class, not just a class focusing on a textbook. UA students felt that this class gave them confidence to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people in the future. For some students, the course led to an interest in studying abroad.

    The ELI students benefit from the course as well. They have the opportunity to share their culture while learning more about U.S. culture and campus life.

    Kelly McPherson, the course instructor, said, “It is really exciting to see the relationships between the American and international students grow over the course of the semester. You can see change on both sides as they truly get to know each other.”

    The CIP 202 course is an introductory course for UA’s Global and Cultural Perspectives Minor.

    Intercultural Experience Showcase

    Permanent Residents in Tuscaloosa

    ELI student Abduljabar from Yemen

    ELI student Abduljabar from Yemen

    The English Language Institute serves not only students on student visas but also international permanent residents of Tuscaloosa.

    Abdulwanab Fadhel, 35, has just completed the ELI program. He escaped the war in Yemen in 2016 and came to Tuscaloosa two years later. Abdulwanab established a store here and is improving his English to better conduct business and to pursue a master’s degree in law.

    Abduljabar Saleh, 18, also left Yemen because of the war. At the age of 13, he went to Jordan and then graduated from high school in Turkey. In the fall of 2020, he joined his father, a businessman in Tuscaloosa, and began his studies at the ELI. Abduljabar hopes to earn a degree in international business law and improve the conditions in Yemen.

    Abdulwanab summed up the ELI experience by saying, “Y’all made a change in us that could never be forgotten.”