Language Institute preps international students

For international students looking to improve their English language skills, the Georgia Tech Language Institute is a second home.

The Institute, located in the O’Keefe building, offers a variety of teaching and tutoring services, programs and activities for students learning English as a second language.  Every year it helps more than a thousand international students and professionals gain confidence and fluency.

Karen Tucker, the Language Institute’s director, explains that the Institute has had a long history here at Tech, existing in one form or another since 1958.  While the core focus of the Institute remains its full-time intensive English program, it now also offers a variety of other opportunities.

“[The Institute has] short programs, a pre-MBA program to help incoming master’s students in the College of Business at […] Tech and the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, and a number of customized programs for on- and off-campus partners,” as well as a variety of programs targeting the Tech campus more specifically, such as credit courses for graduate students and the Language Support Center.

The Language Support Center is a place where international students can receive one-on-one tutoring in English communication skills in the context of coursework.

“Our instructors, who all have extensive training and experience in English as a second language instruction, provide 20 hours of one-on-one assistance to international graduate and undergraduate students, helping them with papers, class assignments, journal articles, proposals, dissertation chapters and presentations of all sorts,” Tucker said.

The Language Institute also presents opportunities for other students looking to practice a foreign language and learn more about another culture or way of life.  There are many opportunities to volunteer  and work at the Language Institute through their Language Support Center, Language Cafe and Conversation Partner Programs.

Adria Motiwalla, a Student Services Coordinator at the Institute, explained that the Language Institute’s Language Café and Conversation Partner programs offer opportunities for students to interact with native speakers of other languages.

The Language Café meets every other Friday at 12:00 PM and consists of a forum through which American students and international students meet informally for conversation and light refreshments.

The Language Institute’s Conversation Partner program, on the other hand, demands a more serious commitment from its participants by helping pair a native English speaker with an international student for sharing of experiences and practice of their respective foreign languages.

The core curriculum remains its Intensive English Program, which targets prospective international students at American universities as well as individuals seeking to use English in a professional setting.

According to Student Services Coordinator Linda Dougherty, the program is offered in eight-week segments of intensive English instruction, five days and twenty hours a week.  After two months of intensive instruction, students are expected to move up to the next of seven levels of English proficiency.  Students take a placement test upon entry to determine their level of English proficiency.

The Language Institute’s core Intensive English Program classes continue to help dedicated English learners, regardless of their level of when they arrive. The purpose of the program is ultimately to make a tangible difference in their social, academic and professional lives.

“When I came here, I couldn’t understand English.  Now I can,” said Yaniré Navas, a Language Institute student and native of Venezuela.