With the spring semester here, Texas Wesleyan has had its arrival of new students.
These include transfers and international students. For the international students, transitioning to the Wesleyan culture includes many types of support.
One type of support that students among the international student population receives is language class. Students must first take classes from The Language Company on campus to help them with their English-speaking skills. This is a vital element in helping students, and the language lab helps them in both listening and speaking.
“Preparing students English-wise is important to keep up at American universities,” said Maggie Brentliner, a former teacher and current director of admissions at The Language Company.
Texas Wesleyan’s office of the Language Company is in Stella Russell Hall.
The Language Company at Texas Wesleyan opened a year and a half ago, but it is not the lone franchise. The Language Company has locations on 14 campuses across the country from California to Maryland and North Dakota to Florida. At Stella Russell Hall, international students take listening, speaking, reading, and writing classes.
When international students first go the Language Company they are given a placement test to see how good their English skills are on a scale from 1-9. Levels 1, 2 and 3 are the beginning courses. Levels 4, 5 and 6 are the intermediate courses, and Levels 7, 8 and 9 are the advanced courses. An eight-week course is available for students who arrive at Wesleyan without English exposure or ability.
“We have a warm and welcoming environment, the teachers are very warm, open and inviting,” said George Apecechea, the student advisor of the Language Company. “A lot of the international students start out at the foundation level; they are very tentative. The Language Company tries to make the students feel more welcome. As their language abilities begin to progress, they gain confidence in themselves and open up and talk more about themselves. “
The goal of The Language Company is that by the time students complete the program, they are able to make the level 9. With that achievement, students get equipped for an American university from an English comprehension standpoint.
Normally, international students must pass an English proficiency test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) when they come to a university in the U.S. The Language Company has arranged with Wesleyan that if students complete the level 9 classes, then they do not have to take the TOEFL or the IELTS exam, they are eligible to take classes at many universities.
Wesleyan has four new international students this semester. Two of the new students arrived from Saudi Arabia, one hails from Jordan and another from Vietnam. The students’ work at The Language Company is helping them be successful in their transition to the United States.
“They are doing very well,” Brentliner said. “I think we prepare the very well.”