LEAP program seeks conversation partners
A program is currently in place at Wright State that seeks to improve the English skills of international students through face-to-face interaction and conversation with American students.
The Learning English for Academic and Professional Purposes (LEAP) program set up sessions with “conversation partners,” in which one American student and volunteer is assigned to one or two international students to improve English-speaking skills.
ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor Mailinh Nguyen said that the meetings take place once a week for 30-45 minutes, and that it was a good way for international students to improve English skills and cultural knowledge.
“It’s very informal,” Nguyen said. “I always tell volunteers that it’s just like meeting friends to hang out. During your session, you can also provide a bit of tutoring if need be.”
Approximately 1,489 international students are enrolled at WSU, with 170 in the LEAP program. There are five levels of the LEAP program that English learners must pass in order to begin their Bachelors or Masters program at WSU.
Graduate student Balasubramamarian Gunasekaran said that there were many cultural differences in the colligate environment between his country of origin and Dayton, OH.
“I am from the Southern part of India. The school days here are very, very different from India,” Gunasekaran said. “At home, we were not even to look at the professors or ask them any questions, and we were not allowed to fold our legs, or let them cross. There was no eating in classes.”
Director of LEAP intensive English program Jeannette Horwitz said there is plenty of room for those interested in conversing.
“We work with the TESOL program and a couple of English classes but somehow there are never enough (American) students to go around,” Horwitz said. “We would very much welcome more American WSU students interested in getting involved with LEAP by being conversation partners.”