Every Friday a cultural blend occurs during a writing class from the LEAP program at Weber State University where international students from all over the globe gather to polish their English writing skills.
Started in 1982, WSU continues to offer the LEAP program to students who want to learn English for academic purposes.
“We teach international students and resident students whose first language is not English,” Debi Sheridan, department chair and instructor in the LEAP program, said.”We focus on the four main skills of language writing, reading, speaking and listening.”
The program is divided into seven levels, and students enrolled can get school credit from levels four, five, six and seven.
“Students who finish the LEAP program can then get foreign language credit because they are now using two languages,” Sheridan said.
The program provides students with skillful professors as well as tutors so that they can have personalized instruction.
“What I like about the LEAP program is that the professors are outgoing and they work with you. If you have any questions they will answer them for you too,” Eduardo Moya, student of the LEAP program, said.
Moya added that he appreciates that teachers don’t try to just fulfill their curriculum, they actually go into the specifics of every topic, helping him and other students to understand better.
“I like the activities that professors planned; I think they have really good techniques to teach international students,” Sopheany Sry, student from the LEAP program, said.
The program not only focuses on helping students learn English, it also helps them adapt to the American culture and the academic environment of studying in an American university, according to the program’s website.
Maria Mortensen, a LEAP program’s instructor, said that they want students to succeed.
“Most of our students are international students, who bring with them their own set of challenges because they are suffering from all sorts of things like cultural shock,” Sheridan said.”They are dealing with a completely new school system, a completely new set of different academic expectations and they are very far from their families as well as their cultures. Sometimes there is nothing here that is like their own culture.”
Sheridan said there are ways for all WSU students to contribute to this program and help international students by being speaking partners. Anybody who wants to participate in the speaking partner program can do so. Students can register at the LEAP program’s office or at the Center for Community Engaged Learning’s office.
“I would say that around 99 percent of our students are more than happy to have Americans talk to them,” Sheridan said. “It helps them practice the language, it makes them feel less afraid, less strange, less isolated, so anybody that wants to approach the students should do that.”
The program also provides opportunities for international students to get involved with the community by volunteering. This opportunity is offered to the students who are in levels five through seven.
Sry said that she likes that the program provides opportunities to learn outside the classroom like volunteering in the community.