The goal is to work with international students who want to study in the United States and transition them to college culture and academics. “The students I hope to grow in this program are looking to improve their English and then complete a four-year undergraduate or a two-year graduate program,” says Pope.
She seeks to help international students succeed in their undergraduate or graduate program by ensuring they are fluent in English and prepared for the academic rigor of a 10-week term at North Central.
“We give them the foundational steps so we can build on that throughout the program,” says Pope. “We make sure they’re taking notes, know how to access Blackboard, navigate campus, give a presentation, cite sources—all of the things that don’t necessarily come with just learning English.”
For Karen Contreras ’19, who’s from Mexico and now majoring in human resource management and philosophy, a favorite part about the ELI was “learning more than English, like history, how to give an academic presentation and different academic topics.”
The English Language Institute helped me because I learned about and used all of the campus facilities and academic support services,” she says. “It helped me learn different types of strategies and now I’m more prepared.”
The program is also open to students who are interested in an American year abroad. These students often study English intensively at North Central before returning home. Naperville and suburban community members are also welcome to enroll.
“People from the community who meet the requirements can take part-time classes,” explains Pope. “We’ve had a part-time student from Mexico who works in taxes and wants to learn English to better serve his customers.”
Summer is the busiest time for the ELI, with multiple programs taking place. In addition to the eight-week summer term, there’s a three-week Cultural Immersion Program for adult students and a two-week Summer Language Academy for high school students. “Our two short-term summer programs often focus more on experiential, cultural learning and allow for more activities,” adds Pope.
"We’ve taken the students into Chicago to see Willis Tower, the Art Institute, the Planetarium and the Museum of Science and Industry and they enjoy it a lot. Sometimes we have students just come for the summer experience because they want to improve their English and take part in the activities.”
The ELI has had “repeat customers” in its three years of existence—students who have recommended it to younger siblings.
“They give us really great feedback,” says Pope. “It’s been fun to see the program evolve and grow in just three years and know that people are happy with it.”