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International News | December 1, 2020

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Immersion in English and Architecture

Immersion in English and Architecture

CU Denver ESL Academy Students Further Education at Denver Art Museum


The bold modern design of the Denver Art Museum’s (DAM) Hamilton Building, which includes innovative features such as 9,000 titanium panels to reflect Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine, provides a perfect example of contemporary architecture. It also provided an ideal setting for 25 international students from the University of Colorado Denver’s ESL Academy to refine their English language and listening skills and to deepen their understanding about the field of architecture.

The learning activity was the culmination of one of the ESL Academy’s content based units. The units combine English immersion with a variety of topics—contemporary architecture, American history, communities and environments in Colorado—designed to broaden international students’ knowledge and enrich their cultural experience in the United States.

The students, especially those who are pursuing architecture and engineering degree programs at CU Denver, were intrigued by the tour guide’s description of DAM’s design evolution. The building respresents a creative break from traditional classically-styled museum design. ESL Specialists Geriann Elliott, Gunilla Johnson, and Christine Blake led student discussions in analysis of the new structure and architectural elements. The specialists also worked with students in educational activities that included the development of paper constructions similar to the ones used by the original designers during creation of the building’s unique shape.

When the students returned to the ESL Academy, they reported to their class and described, in English, their favorite architectural features. In the words of Mohammed al-Shafei, “It was an interesting experience to marry the content of the course with reality.”


About the University of Colorado Denver ESL Academy

The English as a Second Language (ESL) Academy at the University of Colorado Denver provides a world of academic, cultural, and career opportunities. This ESL Academy prepares students in not only English language fluency, it also supports their complete success as a University of Colorado Denver student. The curriculum and approach are rigorous; full-time students are in classes three to five hours a day with follow-up homework. Students are prepared to enter degree programs in all 13 schools and colleges of the University of Colorado Denver.

Learn more about the University of Colorado Denver ESL Academy at:
For more information about the College of Architecture and Planning, visit:



University of Colorado Denver ESL Academy students refine their knowledge of architecture and English language at the Denver Art Museum. Pictured from far top left to lower right:  Jamilah Lafadhli, Wei-Hsuan (Shauna) Ting, Abdulmohsen AlHassoun, AlRamadhan Mohammed, (Felicia) Kuan-Wen, Badr AlOtaibi, Abdulaziz Aladhadh, and Mohammed Abuhussain.