ENMU looking to build summer ESL course

Argen Duncan

Eastern New Mexico University employees are trying to jump start the ENMU Summer English as a Second Language Institute, with more emphasis on including the community.

ENMU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Mary Fanelli Ayala said organizers are trying to build the institute’s outreach to the community and service to international students.

The year-round ESL Institute has existed for several years, but the summer institute, an intensive four-week program, has been held only once before, said Department of Languages and Literature Chairman Jerry Spotswood, who helps with the institute. This summer, the program is scheduled to run July 18-Aug. 12.

“I believe the summer program offers students the chance to develop their language skills in an enriching, social environment that welcomes them to the community of Portales and ENMU,” said ESL Institute Interim Director Bonnie Jones.

Jones said she wants to prepare students for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, which they have to pass to study in the United States, and improve their English.

The summer program provides classroom instruction and work in the university’s state-of-the-art language computer lab, she said.

Jones intends to have guests in the classroom for such things as cooking demonstrations and musical performances. She said students would also take field trips around Portales.

Ayala said if the program grew, ENMU would have more than one session per summer.

In the beginning, Spotswood said, the ESL Institute served mainly Chinese students in a dual-credit program with ENMU and a Chinese university, but now it has started including students from Central and South America and Portales-area residents who want to brush up on their English.

Spotswood said organizers are trying to expand the program for teaching reasons.

“Having a diversity of cultures tends to force people out of their comfort zone and, hopefully, into English, which is the one common language they’ll all have access to coming in,” he said.

Also, Spotswood said, the summer institute needs enough students to be economically viable.

“But as much as anything, we want it to be good for students and good for the campus,” he said.

Spotswood expects it to take a couple of years to build the program to the desired size.

Ayala said ESL Institute students take two to 18 hours of ESL instruction during the regular semesters.

“And generally, we do a pretty thorough placement process to decide just how much language immersion they need,” she said.

As students learn enough English to function in a regular ENMU class, Spotswood said, they begin to leave the program.

As well as being able to participate in ESL classes, Ayala said, the community can use the language computer lab during open hours every semester.