July 16, 2018

Learning the language

Qilin and Lam study together in their ESLI class

Qilin and Lam study together in their ESLI class

For students in the English as a Second Language International (ESLI) program, summer is anything but a break from studies

The University of Wisconsin-Superior campus is much quieter during the summer months with most students returning home or living off-campus until classes resume in the fall. However, on the third floor of Old Main, it’s an entirely different story.

Here, students are working on mastering the English language through English Language and Culture Institute (ELCI), an accredited intensive program. For the 12 students in the summer program from China, Vietnam, Cameroon, South Korea and Japan, English is vastly different than their native language, posing a significant challenge and one that is critical to achieving their academic and professional goals.

While ESLI is a relatively new program at UW-Superior — established in 2015 — the University has always had a strong commitment to international students. In fact, the very first class at Superior Normal School (the University’s precursor) in 1893 included one international student. Today, international students make up 9.3 percent of enrollment — second only to UW-Madison in the UW System in terms of overall percentage.

“We worked hard to bring ESLI to campus,” said Mark MacLean, Director of International Admissions. “We are very pleased that it is such a high quality, comprehensive program. It has contributed to our success in attracting students from around the world, which not only benefits them, but also the entire University and the Superior community. UW-Superior is proud to have had 3,280 students from 116 different countries since 1973.”

From Vietnam and China to Wisconsin

Lam Hoang Mai first learned about UW-Superior when she was still in high school in Vietnam from a friend who currently attends the University. Lam wanted to study in the United States for the high quality of education and the employment opportunities she knew would ensue. Although it took some coaxing to convince her parents to support her desire to study abroad, Lam said the affordability and ESLI program at UW-Superior were keys to the decision.

Lam and Qilin enjoy some fresh air during a class break

“I plan to study international business and finance,” said Lam. “I’d like to study Chinese and Korean after I master the English language and eventually, I hope to find a job either in the United States or another country.”

Lam enjoys the wide open spaces and peacefulness in the Twin Ports, which is in stark contrast to her home in the highly urbanized city of Da Nang. She loves to fish and hike, which has made her transition much easier, though she admits she misses her family and friends at home.

Chinese student Qilin Liu heard about UW-Superior from high school classmates who attended the University. Their experiences convinced him it would be the ideal place for him as well, but he knew he had to improve his English.

“My English wasn’t where it needed to be for academic study,” he said. “That’s why I needed a program like this. I plan to earn my degree in Transportation and Logistics Management and the program at UW-Superior is excellent, so I’m excited about future job opportunities.”

Lam and Qilin have been admitted to UW-Superior conditionally based on meeting the English proficiency requirement of a 3.0 GPA or better through ESLI. With final exams approaching, they are both studying diligently to ensure they can begin college courses this fall, but they say it’s not all work and no play.

“We all spend a lot of time together so we’ve become good friends, and we get to go on field trips and do things like fishing, canoeing, hiking, and mini golf,” said Lam. “We also live in the same residence hall and take turns cooking and sharing meals. Qilin made us chicken wings and hot pot recently and I liked it very much.”

Qilin and Lam study together in their ESLI class

Qilin and Lam study together in their ESLI class

In the 2017-18 school year, [NAMEONLY:SCHOOLNAME] had 223 international students representing 48 countries. Not only do these students bring immeasurable academic and cultural value to the campus and local community, they also contribute significantly to the local economy. A NAFSA Association of International Educators report showed that [NAMEONLY:SCHOOLNAME]’s international students contributed $4.8 million and supported 30 jobs in the Superior and surrounding areas during the 2016-2017 Academic Year.



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