North Central College introduces intensive English language program to boost international enrollment

Apr 19, 2013

North Central College will begin offering a full-time, intensive English language program through its new English Language Institute (ELI) in September. ELI is designed to prepare international students for admission to North Central or to another U.S. college or university by developing academic, professional and social English language skills.

“We hope to attract additional qualified international students by enhancing offerings in noncredit language instruction,” says Laurie Hamen, vice president for enrollment management, athletics and student affairs. “It’s beneficial to have a route for ELI students to improve their English on campus and stay as degree-seeking students.”

The curriculum provides participants with 20 hours per week of classroom instruction in areas of conversation, reading, writing, language and culture, and small class sizes ensure that students have personal interaction with faculty.

“Our goal is to help students make a seamless transition into undergraduate study,” says Megan Otermat, assistant director of international admission. “The response we’ve received so far has been very positive, and we are all working together to prepare the program for launch.”

The schedule for ELI follows the College’s academic calendar, which includes three 10-week terms from September to June and two four-week summer terms of enrichment courses. Prospective students may apply for September or January entry into ELI to begin the program in the fall or winter term, respectively. Participants in the program live on campus and also receive full access to campus resources and facilities.

“Everyone involved has been actively seeking ways to integrate the ELI group into the campus community,” Otermat adds.

ELI students are encouraged to take part in the College’s active campus life that includes being involved in the International Club, taking cultural courses and going on area excursions. The College’s campus is also within walking distance of Naperville’s vibrant downtown and is a half-hour train ride from Chicago.

Jack Shindler, professor of English and director of international programs, explains that the College’s ELI sets itself apart from similar programs in that it is housed within a smaller institution located in the suburbs.

“Location is huge, and North Central offers a safe and accessible place for students to live,” Shindler says. “We also make sure that the students in ELI receive the same careful attention and treatment all of our students get.”

ELI will be led by a program director who will be selected in early May, and by a graduate assistant. They will receive support from the College’s Office of International Programs. The program will also have dedicated faculty to teach English language courses specifically within ELI.

Over the years, the College has hosted an average of nearly 50 international students every year over the past 10 years, representing no fewer than 21 countries in each of those years.

“Having 75 international students coming in would be ideal in the next few years—having 100 would be great,” Shindler adds.

The introduction of ELI ultimately aligns with one of the goals within the College’s strategic plan of continuing to internationalize the student body by bringing a global experience to students on the College’s Naperville campus.

“We are really enthusiastic about the ELI program and how it will enrich the lives of all of our students,” Hamen says. “It’s incredible for students coming into ELI and provides degree-seeking students with more access to people from different countries and a more global experience.”

North Central’s Office of International Programs provides services to the College’s international students and students studying abroad. The staff focuses on ensuring that students gain a global dimension to their education through proficiency-based language learning, coursework, internships, person-to-person contacts, cultural programming, study abroad and travel.