Business Times of Edmond, Oklahoma August 2018 - Page 8

Students from countries all over the globe attend class at The Language Center before continuing their studies at an American University. Connecting Cultures: How The Language Center Expanded its Programs to Include Opportunities for American Children STORY & PHOTOS BY KRISTY STURGILL F rom every corner of the globe, professionals and students alike choose to start their experience in the United States at an English Language learning facility. Located near University of Central Oklahoma, The Language Center has provided services to international students since the 1980s. “It’s a family business,” said Mina Morgan, president of The Language Center. “My father is from another country and culture, and he actually came here from Iran, learned English in this very program, and to me, he’s the epitome of the American dream. He’s come here, he’s learned the language and he’s become a citizen. He’s given jobs and opportunities, and he’s helping students to have a similar experience and get a degree.” Morgan wants to leave her own legacy with her work at The Language Center by implementing a new program to provide 8 August 2018 | The Business Times opportunities for American children to encounter languages like French, Japanese, Korean and Spanish from native or near- native speakers. “So for the last couple of years we’ve been developing this program, and it’s something that’s been put on my heart,” she said. “The other side of our business consists of these international students, and we partner with UCO, and many of these students are enrolled in teaching programs and need to practice listening and responding. So, it’s a perfect match.” She said they aren’t offering the programs for the purpose of fluency, but instead just to expose young children to new languages. However, she said the participating kids are like sponges, so they learn several new words during the games and lessons. Currently, the programs are offered mainly through partners like We Rock the Spectrum kids’ gym, Artsy Rose and the YMCA. Morgan said the program benefits the American children because they are exercising their memory and improving skills they can use in the classroom. “It’s really cool to see that the program is working in the way of the cognitive benefits,” she said. “But also I hear things like ‘My daughter and I were in the store and the family behind us were speaking Spanish, and my daughter recognized some of the things that they were saying.’” Morgan encourages others to learn to say hello in another language or to study cultures enough to know whether or not you should take a business card in one hand or two hands, or whether or not to make eye contact. She says it’s the little things that will help businesses and people connect more meaningfully. “I think that no matter what you do,