The CSI English Language Institute (ELI) will hold its fall semester Culture Day on Friday, November 18 in the Campus Center Green Dolphin Lounge from 10:00am to 3:30pm. The event, which is held three times a year, is a celebration of the diverse heritages of the students participating in the Institute’s Intensive English program.
“The students introduce us to the unique aspects of their culture, ” said Joanne Riggio, ELI Coordinator. The participating students use PowerPoint displays and sometimes dance, stories, and other demonstrations to share their unique history and culture with CSI’s students, faculty, and staff. Culture Day, which takes place during the last day of International Education Week, sponsored by the Center for International Service, is but one example of the efforts put forth by the students and staff of the ELI. The ELI is an English as a Second Language (ESL) program at its core, but encompasses much more than many ESL programs offer. The ELI adds a cultural component to its program, an instruction on the “American way of life,” adds Barbara Clark, Deputy Director, Center for International Service. “It is language through content.”
The semester-long program (though, there are also special customized programs for summer and winter) is designed to address the English language through an American cultural lens. While one of the major focuses of the program is preparing its students to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), an equal focus is readying them for college life in the U.S.
The students who attend the ELI come from all walks of life and attend for many different reasons. While some former ELI students are members of international universities such as the City of Hong Kong University and Jing Ling College, a good deal of the Institute’s students are also business people or people in need of learning English for professional or personal enrichment. “Some of our students are even relatives visiting Staten Island residents…we are open to anyone with a desire to enrich their grasp of the English language,” said Riggio.
The students receive certificates signaling their advancement through the program and they can attend a formal graduation ceremony at the end of the semester. During the semester, students are immersed in the English language and American culture through in class sessions and excursions to local, Staten Island sites, as well as New York City. The students have opportunities to visit Snug Harbor, Fort Wadsworth, Times Square, and MOMA, as well as the MET. Some classes even had the opportunity to attend Staten Island Yankees games. “Staten Island is an ideal place to learn about American culture,” said Clark. “CSI is located in a residential area, but its proximity to the city makes it really attractive to incoming students of all backgrounds.”
The final component to the ELI’s program is the current revival of the Conversation Partners Program, incorporating CSI student volunteers into the classroom learning experience. CSI students meet with their ELI counterparts as conversational partners, the purpose being that “both sides learn about each other’s respective cultures,” said Riggio. The reciprocal nature of the program, factored with the faculty and staff’s passion for promoting the exchange of cultural heritages, truly make the CSI ELI a unique learning opportunity.
For more information on the English Language institute, call 718.982.2090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.