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A group of Chinese students on some steps.

The Minnesota English Language Program on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis regularly serves groups of students from China.

Language program opens university study to international students

From eNews, June 12, 2008

"I want to attend graduate school, possibly in the United States, so I decided to see about life and studying in an American school firsthand," says Jian Li, a 2007 participant in the College of Continuing Education's Minnesota English Language Program (MELP).

Li was part of a group of students from Qingdao University in China studying with the program, which helps international students who come to the University of Minnesota enhance their English skills in academic as well as business or community settings.

MELP representatives here at the U work with foreign universities, schools, and businesses to develop an intensive English language learning program tailored to a specific groups of students. Groups are usually 15 to 25 students, and the program typically lasts 5, 7, or 10 weeks.

Students spend their mornings in intensive English courses; in the afternoons they head out into the community to practice their language skills and take part in cultural activities, everything from making Jack-O'-Lanterns at Halloween to going dog sledding on the North Shore. The program partners with the U's International Student and Scholar Services office.

Li credits the program with giving him an edge, should he choose to go into business and industry. "I am interested in studying business, since trade between the U.S. and China is becoming more and more popular," he said. "As it is one of the most economically powerful countries in the world, the U.S. is something I knew I needed to know more about."

MELP director Mike Anderson says the program offers students the chance to "learn what studying at a top-ranked academic research institution is like. It's about navigating American culture, and meeting people from all across the world."

People choose the program, Anderson adds, because of the U's longstanding tradition of ESL excellence, as well as for the accredited faculty and for the benefits a program embedded in a research institution can offer. With contract learning groups from Qingdao and Asia Pacific University in Japan who have already completed their studies, in addition to groups lined up to participate, the program's future is bright.

"We're serving the entire U community--not just visiting students," he says. "We're bringing more international perspectives to the U, and we're serving as a resource for students already here on campus. It's a great opportunity for American and international students alike."

In addition to the Minnesota English Language Program, the University of Minnesota also houses the Academic English Program and the Intensive English Program. For more information about all the programs, visit CCE.