ESL Academy Students Contribute High GPA’s
Preparing International Students to Succeed in CU Denver Classrooms
Along with the excitement of this spring’s 2014 graduation week on the downtown campus of the University of Colorado Denver, another significant graduation is taking place at CU Denver’s ESL Academy. This May marks the 12th ESL Academy graduation since its founding in January 2012. Dozens of graduates of the ESL Academy have continued on into degree programs at the university, studying in disciplines ranging from architecture to engineering to public health. The students, from countries including Costa Rica, Iraq, Lebanon, Lithuania, Taiwan, Thailand, China, Venezuela, Colombia, South Korea, and Qatar, arrive at the Academy to prepare for success in both undergraduate and graduate university programs.
Charged with preparing international students for the academic rigor of graduate level studies, the ESL Academy has created a very challenging formula for success. It is a winning formula: a skills and content-based curriculum, positive motivational techniques to promote the use of English outside of the classroom, and selective admissions.
Rebecca Fisher, Founding Director and current English Language Specialist, said, “The high GPA’s of the graduate level students, between 3.2 and 3.7, reflect the expertise and hard work in the business of intensive language acquisition. Nowadays, English is a commodity, and students want to see results. We have built a multifaceted approach to effectively teaching more than English; we promote appropriate behavior in the classroom, major-specific research, and academic writing norms. I’m so glad that our alumni are successful in their degree programs.”
Academy alumni Noor Alibrahim agrees. “I’m taking three classes this term and my other international friends were like, ‘Wow! How can you do that your first term?’ and I told them that I was just ready after the ESL Academy.” Noor currently is working toward a master’s degree in the School of Education and Human Development.
Abdusamea Elfaid, another alumni who is enrolled as an electrical engineering master’s candidate, noted his sense of satisfaction writing computer code and having more time to sleep. “At the Academy, I only slept four hours a night. ESL classes, eat, homework, and sleep. That was it; that was my life for six months. It’s all worth it now, though, because I feel so comfortable in my degree classes. I love writing code.”
Even with adequate preparation, some students still need more exposure to university life to be fully at ease. Sukainah Alsaihati, the first ESL Academy graduate who completed all five levels of the Academy, is now enrolled in the electrical engineering program. “While I am proud to be one of the few Saudi women in my major, it’s also a little bit intimidating because there are so many guys!”
Current Acting Director, Marcel Bolintiam, is pleased with the high quality of the ESL Academy graduates. “The mission of the ESL Academy is to prepare students for academic success in their degree program at the University of Colorado Denver and in their future careers. These results give us confidence in the quality of the ESL Academy program and its graduates. We are pleased to contribute to the success of international students and look forward to celebrating the completion of their degree programs.”