ELC Newsletter Spring 2016

Former ELC Student Earns Academic Scholarship Spring 2016 English Language Center Wells Hall 619 Red Cedar Road B 230 Wells Hall Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824 The ELC GLOB English Language Center ESL 491: A New Course Offering for Graduate Students By Patricia Walters Ms. Noura Massri, a student at the ELC before embarking on her undergraduate program in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, was awarded the Marilyn Mood Endowed Scholarship on April 14, 2016. This scholarship is awarded annually to a deserving student in nutritional sciences who plans to pursue a career in the field. Noura fits this bill perfectly. She hopes to conduct research in an industrial or academic setting, with the goal of helping people lead healthy lives. Noura began her studies in food technology engineering in her home country, Syria. She was attracted to this field of study because she enjoyed chemistry and sciences. At MSU, she enjoys being in a “diverse environment, meeting so many people from different places and different majors.” In Syria, she said, a class cohort goes through a degree program and classes together for 4 or 5 years. However, here, she has taken core courses with fellow students who then branch out to other colleges and majors. Through her classes, her campus job, and the clubs she is involved in, she has made many friends, which is what she finds is a highlight of her experience. To juggle everything, she has to plan her week out carefully. “It’s hard some days,” she admits, “because I have to schedule my meetings, my job, and my study time. Some days are very long.” She appreciates her experience at the ELC, which, she says, played “a critical role in my social and academic transition to MSU. I feel that this is very important because without the supportive teachers at ELC, I would not be able to achieve this academic accomplishment.” Undoubtedly, her hard work is paying off. The English Language Center congratulates Noura Massri for this wonderful recognition! ESL 491 (Continued from page 1) As for the cultural component of the course, Lin says, “Also, there is some cultural knowledge and it is very useful to know it, so that we can communicate in a more comfortable and confident way.” Student Youngjun Lee agrees: “ITAs can get more information about the real situations for their future classes and learn strategies to address some specific topics in an American academic context.” One small example of a topic covered in class was answering student questions. Americans expect someone to answer a question within 3 seconds. Therefore, a non-native speaker needs to know that longer silences can be misinterpreted as the student not being heard or the teacher not knowing the answer. Certainly, this is something a TA wants to avoid and strategies such as saying “let me think” or even “umm” can help them to be more successful in these situations. Students say they have found the course beneficial. Lin says, “I’m less concerned with my accent compared to before. The teacher and some parts of the textbook told us that we can keep our accent and express ourselves clearly.” Hana Kang says, “It’s hard to improve English in a systematic way just by speaking with friends.” Siwen Guo says, “I have already recommended this course to my friends because I think it’s helpful to have a specific course for the TAs in our program. It works not only on our listening and the pronunciation but also on our organization and explanation of the content in our area.” ESL 491 students and their instructor spell out sentence stress and intonation By Stacy Sabraw Most people know that the English Language Center offers courses in the Intensive English Program (090094), English for Academic Purposes courses (ESL 220-223) and Special Program courses. However, most people do not know that the Center also offers Special Topics courses (ESL 291 and ESL 491). In fact, the first versions of these courses were held during the Fall 2014 semester. With a lot of outreach by faculty and administrators of the ELC and collaboration with faculty from other colleges and departments, students who may never have taken a course through the ELC before can still get the language and academic skills support they need. One such course was designed for a very specific group: graduate students in the Measurement and Quantitative Methods (MQM) Ph.D. program. This particular version of ESL 491, which began this semester, is for international teaching assistants to help them speak more intelligibly in English and teach them how to navigate specific situations in American culture both inside and outside the classroom. Regarding the speech improvement part of ESL 491, student Qinyun Lin says, “This course helped me realize that I did not pronounce certain words correctly or clearly. With this awareness, I started to pay more attention to certain words or syllables and try to say them clearly every time I used them.” Student Unhee Ju agrees and adds that she learned how to, “properly use thought groups, intonation, pausing, and prominent syllables.” Continued on last page Dr. Susan Gass, TESOL 50 at 50 At this year’s  50th International TESOL Conference in Baltimore,  Dr. Susan Gass, ELC Director and Distinguished Professor, was recognized as one of the 50 leaders in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). This celebrated group of 50 has “made significant contributions to the profession with in the past 50 years.” These leaders have helped develop English language teaching and learning into a profession that touches the lives of students and educators worldwide. Congratulations Dr. Gass!