July 27, 2009

Taiwanese, Korean students studying at SIUC

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Every group that comes for summer sessions presented by the Center for English as a Second Language at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a little different from the ones that came before them.

However, most of them seem to enjoy shopping, Cheryl Ernst, the special groups coordinator for the center, said.

Three groups of university students -- two groups from Taiwan and one from Korea -- are attending SIUC this summer to improve their English language skills and learn about American culture. Besides shopping their way through American culture, the students attend cultural events and sites in and around Southern Illinois during their stay, including Sunset Concerts, a Miner’s baseball game, and Giant City State Park.

The daily routine for the students includes intensive English language classes, classes on various aspects of American culture, and free time on campus or in town. This summer, students in the intercultural communication class in the Department of Speech Communication joined one group of the visiting students for several classes.

Ernst said this year’s students discovered the bowling alley in the Student Center early on, and have enjoyed bowling and making friends there. She said others rent bicycles to explore campus. The students are comfortable using the Saluki Express buses, too, she said, and seem to have no problems getting around on their own.

“This is the trip of a lifetime for many of these students,” Ernst said. “Many of them live at home while they attend the university in their own country, and for them, this is often the first real taste of freedom.”

Marilyn Rivers, CESL director, said the common factor among these students is a desire to improve their English skills -- they don’t necessarily have the same major courses of study in common. This SIUC trip, she said, gives the students a chance to meet students with different academic interests, students they might not meet at their home universities even though they are classmates there.

“They often form very strong bonds here,” she said.

The students are from Chungwoon University in Korea, National Formosa University in Taiwan and I-Shou University in Taiwan.

Those in the University or area communities who would like to interact with foreign students to help them improve their English skills can contact Cheryl Ernst at cernst@siu.edu.