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English Language Institute




Letter from the Vice President of University Life As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the English Language Institute (ELI) and share this report, it is appropriate to recognize the outstanding work ELI faculty members have done to support our international community and contribute to Mason’s broader internationalization goals and initiatives.

Mission Statement The ELI was established in 1981 as a self-supporting unit of George Mason University, with all revenues coming from student tuition and fees. Its mission is to provide quality instruction in English as a second language that will develop the language and academic skills, as well as the cultural awareness needed, for the academic and/ or professional purposes of its students. In addition to classroom instruction, students receive a wide variety of support services to facilitate their transition to life and study at a university in the United States. As a pipeline to degree status, the ELI mission fully supports Mason’s 2014 strategic goal of increasing international student enrollment by at least 20 percent.

The ELI’s experienced and dedicated team has created a program that has been recognized nationally and internationally and has become known as the “sought-after” educational experience for international students. Officials from embassies, the State Department, and other international institutions rank Mason’s ELI one of the top programs in the country. Sandra Scherrens Vice President University Life

The faculty takes great pride in the many ways ELI students have contributed to the enrichment of the Mason experience for all members of our community. In the past 30 years, ELI students have represented dozens of different countries, each with unique cultural and linguistic backgrounds. They bring to the classroom and to social settings multiple perspectives on global issues and different ways of knowing and understanding the world—greatly enhancing the educational experience for all students. The ELI also plays an important role in supporting Mason’s internationalization efforts both on campus and abroad. ELI faculty members have participated in many Mason global initiatives in such places as Ras Al Khaimah, Indonesia, and Korea. ELI faculty members have also developed innovative programs with other campus departments such as the Dialogue with Americans class with the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution where thought-provoking discussion and learning occurs between domestic and international students. Please join me in congratulating the ELI faculty for 30 outstanding years of innovative teaching and learning. As the ELI continues to implement its strategic plan, it will undoubtedly have many more notable achievements to share in future years.

Dreaming big 1

The English Language Institute

Core Values

Letter from the Director Over the years, the ELI has grown from a small program with only four part-time faculty members to its current faculty and staff of more than 40 full-time and adjunct instructors and administrators serving more than a thousand students in some capacity each year. ELI faculty members are proud of the links to and collaborations with other Mason departments and, as dedicated professionals, are committed to maintaining the highest standards in the field of teaching English as a second language while helping Mason attain its strategic goals regarding campus internationalization.

• Multilingual students contribute to the value of a Mason education by providing real-life opportunities to challenge and expand all students’ developing worldviews.

John Pope Executive Director 16 years at ELI

We offer two distinct programs: the Intensive English Program, which serves international students who have come to the United States to study English in preparation for academic study at Mason, and the Support Services Program, which serves non-native English-speaking (immigrant and international) students enrolled in degree status at Mason, as well as international faculty, visiting scholars, and international teaching assistants. As a pipeline to degree status, the goal of these programs is to give international students and scholars the help they need so that their linguistic and cultural backgrounds won’t hinder their academic success at Mason. Please accept this report with our compliments. We hope you will join us in celebrating our 30th anniversary at Mason!

Letter from the Assistant and Associate Directors As a unit within University Life, the ELI is well-situated institutionally in a culture of thoughtful reflection on community-building issues. Together we aim to foster an institutional ethos in which we embrace our differences. At the ELI, we certainly recognize and celebrate the significant contributions made by the international students whom we welcome and teach, knowing that their presence provides the opportunity for all Mason faculty, staff, and students to think about their own experiences, worldviews, and engagements with the world. Among the wider campus community, we are also aware of the growing international student presence on campus, and we appreciate the complexity of the internationalization project. Fostering a positively oriented, inclusive atmosphere requires a spirit of collaboration and eagerness among all of us to find and build on common ground. As you read through this report, we hope that you will think about the work you do on a daily basis and the ways in which we might work together.

Tran Beatson Associate Director 10 years at ELI

Karyn Mallett Assistant Director 3 years at ELI

• The ELI fosters student development by providing educational experiences tailored to international students’ specific linguistic, academic, and cultural needs. • The ELI supports professional development and research projects for faculty and encourages an academic work environment wherein faculty stay current with pedagogical and research developments in teaching English to speakers of other languages and applied linguistics. • The ELI promotes a spirit of campus collaboration through outreach initiatives woven into the Support Services Program, Intensive English Program, and partnership programs with other university offices. • The ELI sustains processes for intentional program review through faculty groups focused on curriculum, assessment, professional development, and student services. • The ELI provides a welladministered language program that exceeds standards for program assessment and reporting procedures as specified by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation policies.

30-Year Report


Student Services Committee The Student Services Committee reviews student policies, services, and activities, and makes recommendations for modifications based on feedback from students and committee members. Twice each semester the committee meets to discuss current practices, and every fall the committee conducts student focus groups to gather student input regarding ELI classes and additional services. Focus groups consist of student leaders chosen by core instructors and members of the Student Services Committee. In addition to making program recommendations, committee members may volunteer to pilot and implement language-learning and community-building services of particular interest to students, subject to the approval of the director.

Faculty and Staff Faculty members are experienced, dedicated professionals with, minimally, master’s degrees in linguistics, the teaching of English as a second language (TESOL), or an equivalent field. They are active professionally, conducting research, leading teacher-training workshops, publishing articles and textbooks, and presenting frequently at local, national, and international conferences.

Administrative Staff

John Pope Executive Director 16 years at ELI

Tran Beatson Associate Director 10 years at ELI

Karyn Mallett Assistant Director 3 years at ELI

Kirsten McLagan ELI CISA Advisor 1 year at ELI

Johanna Koh Office Manager 4 years at ELI

Cloud Spurlock Program Administrator 1 year at ELI

2011–2012 Adjunct Faculty

Assessment Committee Formed in Fall 2008, the ELI Assessment Committee comprises an assessment coordinator and four full-time faculty members who review and research Intensive English Program (IEP) placement and proficiency testing. The committee’s work led to the adoption of a new paper-based placement test and an Internet-based test, ACCUPLACER®, used to assess IEP proficiency and test applicants to the ACCESS and BRIDGE programs at Mason. In addition, work by committee members incorporates the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scales in proficiency reporting and builds further on compliance standards for Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA)-accredited institutions.


The English Language Institute

Kate Baldridge-Hale

Virginia Bouchard

Jinny Brow

Mary Charleza

David Driscoll

Elaine George

Laura Kieffer

Soyoung Kubler

Susan Oak

Barbara Rachlin

Not Pictured Joan Bauerlein Winnie Lamothe Jessica McCaughey Peter Nguyen Marilyn Rahilly

Jane Stacey

Carole Thurston

Justin Voigt

Curriculum Committee Full-time Faculty and Administrative Assignments

Melissa Allen Support Services Coordinator 28 years at ELI

Adele Camus Resource Coordinator 20 years at ELI

Steve Copley Professional Development Coordinator - 16 years at ELI

Ben Elwood Transition Level Coordinator - 5 years at ELI

The Curriculum Committee reviews curriculum learning outcomes and strives for consistency with classroom content by monitoring classroom syllabi and encouraging section coordination. In the past five years, the curriculum coordinator and the committee have revised the ELI curriculum to include detailed expected learning outcomes for each of the seven ability and skill levels. Currently, the committee is working on adding CEFR descriptors to the existing curriculum.

Professional Development Committee

Marie Huhtala Arlington Support Services Liaison - 5 years at ELI

Esther Kim EAP/OCS Materials Coordinator - 4 years at ELI

Julie Kim Language Program Evaluation Coordinator - 12 years at ELI

Jane Kirsch Curriculum Coordinator 13 years at ELI

Ellen Kohn Undergraduate Studies Advisor - 20 years at ELI

Thomas Kozumplik Academic Writing Materials Coordinator - 13 years at ELI

Laurie Miller Instructional Technology Coordinator - 20 years at ELI

Michael Smith Graduate Studies Advisor 18 years at ELI

Sarah Steadman Student Activities Coordinator - 14 years at ELI

Lawrence Stone Assessment Coordinator 6 years at ELI

Sherry Trechter LDC Coordinator 30 years at ELI

Ghania Zgheib Content-based Instruction Coordinator - 3 years at ELI

In 1997, the Professional Development Committee launched the Teacher Development Portfolio in which faculty can log key achievements including curriculum development projects, conference participation and leadership assignments, mentoring, graduate class instruction, academic coursework, and research. Highlights include: • A hybrid distance English learning program for Mason employees. • Colloquia for the American Association for Applied Linguistics. • A term as president of the Washington Area Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages. • Mentorship of more than 60 practicum students of linguistics and education. • Certifications from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. • A Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program with Brazil. • An intensive teacher development seminar in Lebanon on online learning. • A book on vocabulary. • Weekly transcripts for Voice of America broadcasts to China. 30-Year Report


Support Services

for Multilingual Students and Faculty

The ELI, at the request of the provost, expanded its services in 1994 to include enrolled (academically admitted) non-native speakers of English, as well as international faculty, visiting scholars, and teaching assistants. After an extensive needs assessment, several programs were implemented to assist enrolled students for whom English is not a first language. The programs are designed to give students the help they need so that their linguistic and cultural background does not hinder their academic success at Mason. Approximately 10 percent of revenues generated by the ELI are allocated to the Support Services Program to fund the following offerings:

Additional Offerings • Mason faculty and staff can refer multilingual students to the ELI for language assessments and tutoring. Referred students receive free English language tutoring tailored to their individual needs. • SPEAK Testing (oral English proficiency test) is conducted for Mason international teaching assistants. In addition, customized tutoring is provided as needed. • The English Conversation Program (small-group sessions led by Mason graduate students) is run each fall and spring to help Mason students new to the United States become comfortable speaking informally in English. • University Life workshops are facilitated periodically for faculty and staff on strategies for working effectively with multilingual students.


The English Language Institute

• An annual five-week summer Bridge project is conducted in coordination with Admissions for entering freshmen with strong academic backgrounds. The program helps students develop their academic reading, writing, and vocabulary skills, and introduces them to the Mason campus, community, and resources, including the Writing Center. • The Support Services Workshop Series (70-80 sessions) is provided each semester to help students, visiting scholars, and other multilingual speakers expand their vocabulary and improve their grammar, speaking, and writing, and reading skills. • The ELI financially supports ESL writing specialists and ESL graduate assistants who work with non-native English speakers in Mason’s Writing Center. The writing specialists and graduate assistants also provide guidance and expertise to other tutors working with multilingual writers. Both positions report to the director of the Writing Center but are paid by the ELI. The ELI has also funded participation by the ESL specialists at several national-level writing research conferences, as well as publishing the Valuing Written Accents publication. • The ELI helps individuals advance in their careers and improves university-wide communication for Mason faculty, staff, and visiting scholars by offering a tuition waiver for one semester of classes in the ELI intensive program for those who would like to improve their English language skills. • Many of the Support Services Program tutoring opportunities and workshops are also offered through Arlington and Prince William Outreach. In addition, the ELI Community Education program offers year-round courses for area businesses and embassies in the evening and on weekends at the Arlington Campus. Students enrolled in the 10-week English Communication for Professional Success and Advanced Writing for Academic and Professional Success courses receive CEUs while improving their business English skills.

The largest program at the ELI is the Intensive English Program (IEP), established in 1981. The Support Services Program developed in 1994 and the partnership with CISA began in 2010. The flowchart above illustrates an overview of ELI operations and major partnerships.

30-Year Report


Campus Collaboration Special Courses • Chinese government officials and Southwest Jiatong University faculty and Korea University students at the School of Computational Sciences and the Volgenau School of Engineering • Chinese graduate students at the School of Public Policy • Indonesian graduate students participating in the Graduate School of Education FAST TRAIN program • English Communication and Public Speaking for Professional and Academic Success* • Advanced Writing for Academic and Professional Success* • Association of American Medical Colleges** • Beers & Cutler* • Dominion SemiConductor** • Freddie Mac** • Mitre Corporation** • Radio Free Asia** * Arlington campus courses ** On-site courses


The English Language Institute

Ongoing Initiatives

In addition to Support Services, many other forms of university collaboration take place within the ELI. While Support Services grew from an initial call from the provost for additional support for multilingual students at Mason, additional collaborations developed in response to program-specific or department-led initiatives. Highlighted campus collaborations include: The Office of Admissions — The ELI regularly collaborates with Admissions regarding provisionally admitted students. Academically qualified students may be offered provisional admission with the requirement that they enroll and study in the ELI’s intensive program until receipt of the ELI’s endorsement that their skills meet or exceed Mason’s minimum English proficiency requirements. The Provost’s Office — The ELI has partnered with CISA since 2010, offering language support for students enrolled in the undergraduate ACCESS program and the graduate BRIDGE program. In addition, ELI faculty members belong to several CISA committees, including the CISA Curriculum Committee, the CISA Language Acquisition Committee, and the CISA Advisory Committee. The Linguistics Program — The ELI has collaborated with Mason’s Linguistics program since 2004 to provide a required practicum opportunity for graduate students pursuing a master’s in linguistics with concurrent graduate TESL certification. The ELI has occasionally provided a similar opportunity for master’s candidates from Shenandoah University. The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution — Since the fall of 2008, the ELI has collaborated with School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR) to offer a linked course for ELI and S-CAR students. The dialogue course affords enrolled students the opportunity to communicate with each other about current topics and expand their knowledge regarding their respective cultures. The ELI and S-CAR are working to expand this model within the Mason community in order to increase the body of knowledge about creating understanding across significant language and culture divides. The Department of Communication — For a number of years, the ELI and Mason’s Depart of Communication have collaborated on the Global Exchange Project (GXP). GXP brings students from communication courses into ELI classrooms on a weekly basis for in-class activities and conversation, giving both groups of students the opportunity to learn about their respective cultures.

ELI Matriculation Academic Year

New Student Enrollment

FALL 2004–SUMMER 2005 FALL 2005–SUMMER 2006 FALL 2006–SUMMER 2007 FALL 2007–SUMMER 2008 FALL 2008–SUMMER 2009 FALL 2009–SUMMER 2010 FALL 2010–SUMMER 2011 FALL 2011–SUMMER 2012 One of the projects we have been working on at the ELI is the tracking of matriculated student data once they finish the IEP and begin academic course work at Mason. This chart illustrates the matriculation growth since fall 2004, which coincides with the implementation of Banner at Mason.

187 182 223 212 211 257 243 228

TOTAL 1742

Fostering student success Foundation Program, RAK, and ELI Cheju — The ELI provided developmental support and advice for the Foundation Program at Mason’s Ras Al Khaimah campus and provides support and advice for the newly established English language program at Cheju National University, Republic of Korea. Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) University Committee — Two ELI faculty members serve as consultants on the WAC committee, participating in meetings and offering research-based and experiential knowledge about the teaching and learning of writing from a second-language (L2) perspective. Special Courses — The ELI regularly provides tailored English language support courses for Mason academic departments hosting international delegations and short-term student programs. Additionally, the ELI administers tailored on-site courses for government agencies and businesses in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Several evening and weekend ELI courses are also available at Mason’s Arlington campus for embassy personnel, working professionals, and individuals entering the local job market or changing careers.

30-Year Report


Mason Community ELI Resources The ELI is fully integrated in the Mason community and is one of the few central resources on campus committed to serving international and linguistically and culturally diverse students at all levels of education—a much-needed aspect of positive campus internationalization. Research on second language acquisition has long supported models of language instruction that integrate skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, and grammar) in the classroom. Language learners need to be participating members of the target language community in real, authentic ways for several hours of each day if language learning is to be most effective. Through the Intensive English Program, the ELI provides multilingual Mason international students with numerous, meaningful opportunities to engage with domestic and other international students in English every day, promoting linguistic growth, as well as crosscultural communication for the Mason student body with each exchange. The IEP’s goal is to provide quality English instruction and rigorous language curriculum, as well as help students adjust to living and studying in the United States through special events, classes, programs, workshops, consultations with instructors and staff, and referrals to Mason resources. In the end, the Mason community benefits by receiving well-adjusted students who have successfully completed the ELI program and who more easily transition to degree status in their respective fields of study.

Living with integrity Program Accreditation Mason’s ELI is one of only 87 intensive English programs in the United States accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). CEA, recognized by the U.S. secretary of education, promotes excellence in the field of English language administration and teaching through accreditation of English language programs and institutions worldwide. Initially accredited for 5 years in 2003, the ELI was re-accredited in December 2008 for 10 years after meeting all 52 CEA standards, which reflect current best practice in the ESL profession. In addition to CEA accreditation, the ELI is a member of UCIEP, a consortium of 72 U.S. university and college intensive English programs commit-


The English Language Institute

Showing we care ted to ensuring that students receive the highest quality intensive English instruction from trained, professional teachers. The ELI is also a member of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP). English language programs offered by AAIEP members are of the highest quality because all member programs are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, CEA, or operate under the governance of regionally accredited colleges or universities.

• Experienced, professional faculty

Program Administration

• An integrated, student-centered learning environment

The ELI is self-supporting, reporting to the Mason vice president for University Life. The ELI administration comprises the executive director, associate director, assistant director (administrative faculty), and advisor, assisted by two classified staff program administrators, and core (full-time) instructional faculty members assigned additional administrative responsibilities. The ELI exclusively maintains its own recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and F1 student visa compliance procedures. • The ELI recruits new students largely through recommendations from applicants’ friends or relatives, many of whom are former ELI students; referrals from the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates embassies; and interest garnered from visits to the University Lifesupported ELI website. • The ELI operates its own admissions process in accordance with academic standards established by George Mason University. Academically qualified students with competitive transcripts required for future matriculation to the university receive admission and orientation documents generated by ELI administration. • The ELI runs an in-person registration event for all students to facilitate the administration’s enrollment and maintenance of student course information in Mason’s Banner system.

Benefits of the IEP • Small class sizes

• Preparation for undergraduate and graduate studies • Individual tutoring as needed • Individual advising on visa issues • Undergraduate and graduate student advising • Field trips and special activities • Free optional workshops • Access to all university services • A dedicated computer-assisted language learning center

• The ELI is a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school, with authorization to admit international students, advise students on F1 visa issues, and maintain student records and generate visa documents in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. Intensive English Program The ELI IEP offers students the opportunity to study at one of seven different levels depending on their English skills, ranging from near-beginner to high-advanced. The ELI schedule includes 15-week fall and spring semesters, as well as a 10-week summer session. Full-time students attend classes 20 hours per week, taking a variety of courses.

30-Year Report


Internationalization Increasing International Student Enrollment Mason’s international students tend to be patient risk-takers, ready to match the unknowns of living in the United States with a spirit of adventure and intellectual determination to know, personally, the value of an international perspective. Learning to “master” any language is, of course, a goal fit for a lifetime; yet, multilingual students demonstrate their linguistic competencies every day as they successfully negotiate two or more languages.

From International Students in American Colleges and Universities: A History “[It] seems not unrealistic to claim now, during the early years of the 21st century, an education devoid of exposure to people from other cultures can hardly be considered a worthy education at all. The most effective corrective for narrow parochialism… is exposure to people unlike ourselves. So, too, the best antidote to ethnocentricity is getting to know those whose backgrounds are instructively dissimilar from our own.” —Teresa Bevis and Christopher Lucas (2007)


The English Language Institute

The ELI serves a significant role in preparing multilingual international students to succeed throughout their academic careers at Mason as we provide English language instruction and academic support through the IEP, the Support Services Program, and the Partnership Program with CISA. Over the past 30 years, we have relied on our solid track record of success and expanded our offerings to meet the growing and diversified needs of rising multilingual student populations. We recognize the fact that internationalizing the campus certainly means much more than increasing international student enrollment, and as the Mason community goes global, the ELI looks forward to additional opportunities to welcome and celebrate the diverse, intellectual, international student populations to come.

“At Mason, international student enrollment numbers have also increased significantly over the years, with projected growth on the horizon. Though we are not alone in our quest to increase international student enrollment, Mason is unparalleled with regard to its comprehensive and pragmatic approach to internationalization. At the highest levels of administration, university leaders recognize the growing connection and communication among nations and cultures around the world. Put simply, the university realizes globalization as a force which is pushing higher education into the international arena. In turn, the university has conceptualized a way to consciously respond to this push. At Mason, internationalization fairly emphasizes the agency of the university, focusing attention on specific policies, programs, and initiatives to create an institutional ethos of international engagement across all dimensions of university life.” —Haan, J., and Mallett, K. (2011). Introduction. In Diversity at Mason: The Pursuit of Transformative Education. Diversity Research Group, George Mason University: Fairfax, Virginia. Currently, approximately half of enrolled students are scholarship recipients under sponsorship from government agencies from their respective countries. Another significant number of students have been provisionally admitted by Mason, including those from the provost’s China 1-2-1 dual degree program who arrive as a new cohort each fall term. Students in the 1-2-1 program and other provisionally admitted students study in ELI’s IEP until receipt of ELI’s endorsement that their skills meet or exceed Mason’s minimum English proficiency requirements. An example set of student demographics showing country of origin is provided below:

Mason’s Strategic Goals for 2014 Expand the number of international students by at least 20 percent while improving the integration of international and domestic students in extracurricular, as well as academic activities. —George Mason University (2008). Strategic Goals for 2014, Goal 5: Strategic Action b

Demographics ELI students typically come from as many as 20 different countries and speak as many as 12 different languages, though we have seen a high number of Gulf region students enroll at the ELI over the past few years. Enrollment numbers in the IEP’s early years hovered around 25 students each year and have grown to the current level of approximately 200 students per semester.

Engagement Many ELI students come to Mason ready to engage in the on-campus community by seeking out student groups, intramural sports, and on-campus jobs that fit their goals and interests. They also participate in University-wide events such as International Week and Mason Day, and they support our athletic teams. The experience at the ELI prepares these students not only for academic success but also for becoming involved in, and adding to, University Life.

30-Year Report


University Life Assessment Project In 2010, the ELI embarked on a long-term, three-phase curriculum and assessment project aimed at comprehensively integrating the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) proficiency scale within the IEP curriculum, proficiency assessment measures, and placement procedures. The start of the CEFR Integration Project aligned with the agreement to provide language support for two programs run out of the Provost Office’s Center for International Student Access (CISA), as well as the University Life call for all units to articulate an Assessment Plan. In December 2011, the ELI participated in the University Life (UL) Assessment Showcase at which we reported on the CEFR Integration Project to date. Information about the project is included here to provide the Mason community some orientation to common issues surrounding the teaching and learning of language.

University Life Priorities Served By CEFR Integration • Continuity in student learning across levels and among programs • Measureable student progress each semester • Data-informed decision making when planning curriculum • Interdepartmental collaboration • Increased program partnerships


The English Language Institute

Project/Initiative Description: The ELI IEP will enact a program-wide adoption of a CEFRbased proficiency scale, thus aligning language assessment, curriculum, and classroom materials to a common scale to provide students additional continuity with regard to language instruction, assessment, and feedback.

Leading by example Phase 1: A research-supported concordance chart correlating language proficiency scales of several, well-known measures was developed during spring and summer 2010 in preparation for the recruitment and entrance testing of CISA’s undergraduate program—ACCESS, Fall 2010—in agreement with CISA and with the Office of Admissions.

• Language Proficiency Concordance Chart

Phase 2:

• CEFR Curriculum Alignment Project

During the second year of ACCESS, 2011–12, ELI faculty members with ACCESS teaching experience are meeting in smaller working groups (determined by a focus on English language skill area and/or by a concern for level-by-level continuity) to begin the longer process of tying the current ELI proficiency scales and curriculum descriptors to the CEFR, capitalizing on what ACCESS-affiliated faculty know about ACCESS-student needs and abilities.

• An integrated, student-centered learning environment

Recent CEFR-related Assessment Projects

• CEFR-aligned textbook list • CEFR-aligned placement and proficiency assessment and reporting

Phase 3: With the advent of the concordance chart and alongside the development of the enhanced, CEFR-correlated ELI curriculum and textbook list, the final phase of the project aims to more comprehensively track data on students’ language progress (according to ELI testing measures: ACCUPLACER ESL®, the Michigan English Placement Test, and the ELI Oral Proficiency Test) over the length of each student’s stay at the ELI and as they matriculate into Mason. The added step will allow ELI Intensive Program administrators the opportunity to reflect systematically on data-based trends related to student English and academic preparedness. At this time, ELI administrators and staff are in conversation about the development of a new database to best track this information.

30-Year Report


Program Overview Student Perspective

Examples of Electives


• The World Today

Students enrolled in the ELI IEP participate in a number of activities during each term. Activities are designed with two purposes in mind: to expand the students’ language and cultural education beyond the classroom and to foster opportunities for international students to become members of their new Mason community.

• Vocabulary • The Jazz Age • Spelling • Food, Culture, and Technology • Pronunciation • English for International Business • Advanced English Grammar • Dialogue with Americans • Volunteerism • TOEFL Preparation

Field Trips

In addition to fieldtrips, the ELI also plans events, some having a specific cultural focus, which brings matriculated Mason students together with ELI students. These extracurricular events are voluntary but typically draw high attendance by both ELI and Mason students. The ELI student activities coordinator regularly coordinates with other Mason departments such as the Office of International Programs and Services, Career Services, Learning Services, Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Dining Services, Intramural Sports, Program Board, Orientation, and Mason student groups such as the International Student Umbrella and the International Friendship Connection, for larger campuswide events (e.g., the annual international Thanksgiving luncheon each fall [cosponsored by ELI and OIPS], and International week each spring).

Embracing our differences

• Virginia apple orchards • Luray Caverns • Washington, D.C. monuments • Arlington National Cemetery • Mount Vernon • Gunston Hall


Special Activities

The English Language Institute

Workshops During the Fall and Spring semesters, the ELI instructors organize and lead optional workshops for students who would like additional help or practice beyond classroom instruction and planned activities. Once a week, students have the oppotunity to attend TOEFL practice split into two different ranges of language proficiency. They can also attend a one-on-one grammar clinic given on a walk-in basis each week. For extra vocabulary building opportunities, instructors also design weekly workshops with rotating topics such as American Pop Music, Hollywood Blockbusters, Springtime Vocabulary, Halloween, and Applying to Mason.

ELI Course

Proficiency Level

Course Description


7 levels from Near-Beginner to Advanced

Content-based integration of academic reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary skills

Oral Communication Skills

7 levels from Near-Beginner to Advanced

Communicative-based listening and speaking curriculum with integrated academic preparation exercises and assignments


Divided by proficiency-level ranges

Supplementary courses of students’ choice, either to target skills (e.g., pronunciation, vocabulary, spelling, advanced English grammar) or meet interests and goals


High Advanced

Undergraduate preparation level for students who have completed advanced core, includes enrollment in an academic course in combination with a language support course and high advanced writing, reading, and speaking courses

Preparation for Graduate Study

High Advanced

Graduate preparation level for students who have completed advanced core, designed to prepare students for challenges facing graduate students by focusing on academic, reading, writing, oral communication, and research skills

Classes Core classes meet 10 hours per week and provide for progressively more challeng- ing work in the skill areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. These are integrated skills classes that teach grammar in context while increasing student vocabulary and overall English language comprehension and production. Oral Communication Skills classes meet 6 hours per week and focus primarily on listening and speaking through integrated academic preparation exercises and assignments. Elective classes meet 2 to 4 hours per week and provide additional language development designed to supplement Core, OCS, and Transition classes. Elective classes are aligned with students’ English skill levels, e.g., Core levels. Undergraduate Transition level and Preparation for Graduate Study level classes, which meet between 2 to 6 hours and 4 to 10 hours per week respectively, provide for progressively more challenging work focusing on all skill areas. Students at these final transition levels are often ready or nearly ready for full-time academic studies and may already have applications for admission to degree status pending.

Student Voices “The ELI was so helpful because back home they tell you ‘Memorize’ and that’s it. Here, no, they tell you ‘Think. We need you to think with us.’ You know? Here, they give you a question, like ‘help us’; they are like seminars, you know, talking, explaining, and giving your thoughts and ideas. No. Back home, no. ‘Do this’ and that’s it, you pass.” “When I came to the ELI, I improved my writing skill because it was terrible. I get used to the area, Fairfax. Nothing was missing in preparing me.” “Back home we don’t write anything like essays and articles and stuff like that; we never used to do that. And coming here straight from high school was really hard so the ELI prepared me and taught me how to organize my writing and how to get the right information.” “Because, in my experience, when I was in the ELI and I went to transition and the advanced core, it was a lot harder than we have it right now.” “I learned how to organize my paper and...I did research as the final project. If I hadn’t taken this class, I would have had obstacles and difficulty in my academic classes.”

30-Year Report


The ELI-CISA Partnership Student Voices “I would never have made it through the ACCESS program without the ELI because I had a very good teacher and I owe her all of my English right now—all my writing in English.” “The ELI really helps, especially because it’s really intense English, and when you get into ACCESS, you need that because it’s not only English, it’s the other subjects on top of the English language. It’s kind of harder, so you have to know the first step in order to understand the other.” “I think my grammar wasn’t good enough when I came [to the United States], but when I was an ELI student, I think the ELI helped me to, you know, not just to prepare for college and not just improve my grammar. It just helped me with a lot of things.” “The ELI helped me a lot with writing, and that helped me in the English class this semester and last semester. We did a lot of presentations, so that helped me a lot with the public speaking class. So the ELI classes helped me a lot with this semester and last semester.”


The English Language Institute

In 2010, partially in response to Mason’s established internationalization goals for 2014, the Center for International Student Access (CISA) was established by the university’s Provost Office. In partnership with the ELI, CISA offers two language-supported programs for two targeted international student populations: academically qualified undergraduate students scoring at the B1 level on the Common European Language Reference (CEFR) scale to enroll in the ACCESS program, and academically qualified graduate students scoring at either the B1 or B1+ level (depending on graduate program requirements) on the CEFR scale to enroll in the BRIDGE–English Enrichment Track (BRIDGE-EET) program. Both programs aim to increase international student enrollment by recruiting and admitting academically eligible students who have not yet reached the university- or program-established threshold for English language proficiency at the time of application.

Celebrating achievements CISA provides enrolled ACCESS and BRIDGE-EET students—primarily F1 visa-holders who matriculate into the program via the ELI or via direct admission—with a wide variety of co-curricular, extracurricular, and complementary programming, including ACCESS-specific student and faculty orientations, Peer Learning Partners, academic advisors, cultural excursions, Living Learning Community activities, and more. The ELI administers aspects related to language program administration, including: • Development of new content-based English for Academic Purposes (EAP) curricula to support two general education courses (PROV 104 to support world history and PROV 103 to support public speaking) specifically for ACCESS students • Co-development with composition and Writing Across the Curriculum directors of a new stretched (i.e., yearlong) and enhanced (i.e., language-supported) co-taught freshman composition course (ENGH 121-122) specifically for ACCESS students • Hiring, staffing, and observations of all language-support faculty (i.e., content-based EAP and freshman composition faculty) • Pedagogical training and observations for CISA faculty across the disciplines on issues related to teaching multilingual international students • Assessing and reporting on language proficiency (initial, midyear, and exit) for all enrolled ACCESS students • Representing the ESL perspective at all CISA committee meetings, especially with regard to policy creation and revision

Student Voices “I did research in the advanced writing class…So I knew how to go to the database, use quotes, annotations, etc. You know, we wrote two essays, we did the analysis, we did the research, we did personal narrative…that was how much pressure we had.” “I was in the transition-level class, so I got to experience a bit from the academic side, like psychology class. Also, I had advanced reading and advanced writing, so I think these classes helped me a lot. Especially advanced writing—that’s a really tough class! I mean, it was harder than the English 100 class.”

30-Year Report


History of the ELI Sherry Tretcher and Melissa Allen began teaching at the English Language Institute in the early 1980s shortly after it opened at Mason. Both have watched Mason grow over the past three decades, and the ELI program with it.

ELI Directors John Pope (2005 – present) Kathy Trump (1991 – 2005) Phyllis Duryee (1984 – 1991) France Pruitt (1981 – 1984)

Melissa remembers that in the beginning campus was “wooded… There was a walking trail…It was just the four original buildings, SUB I, and Robinson then.” At the time, the ELI program offered segmented courses in reading, writing, listening, and speaking rather than its current integrated skills curriculum. “We’ve gone…from total isolation from each other and within the University,…then this kind of growing within the ELI, and then more integration in the University,” she notes. “There have been many incremental changes over the years with the Transition Program and Support Services.” Sherry recalls trends in different generations of students from different countries: “The Koreans. The Saudis. Our demographics have changed, but so have the characteristics of people.” Both have fond memories of working in a lighthearted, flexible environment. Melissa and Phyllis Duryee, ELI director in the 1990s, attended an international conference for the ELI: “We did this presentation on content-based instruction… and I remember afterwards Phyllis was glowing with the excitement of it all.”

Sherry Trechter and Melissa Allen at an ELI awards ceremony, circa 1990

Many students who go through the ELI program continue to stay in touch with their instructors. “We have had students who went on to become [US] citizens,” Sherry points out, “and they’ve brought their families back with them [to say] ‘Look what I have done!’”

1981 intensive english program begins

1994 support services begins

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The English Language Institute

Faculty Perspectives “Teaching at the ELI has been an enriching experience to me because I feel that my colleagues and I work together not only to provide international students with a starting point toward their academic lives in the United States but also support the transition to a new culture.” —Ghania Zgheib, M.A.

University Life creates purposeful learning

“It’s very rewarding to watch students grow as individuals, gain confidence, make progress, and reach their academic goals. Some fond memories include watching a male student propose to his fiancée, also a student, during the closing ceremony (she said yes!) and attending their wedding ceremony years later; hearing a student share news about admission into a university; attending former students’ graduation ceremonies; and seeing former students while traveling overseas.” —Jane C. Kirsch, M.A.

environments, experiences, and opportunities that energize all students to broaden their

“For me, the ELI is an extended family that includes faculty, students, staff, and the larger Mason community. Most importantly, I have many fond memories of my wonderful students and of my colleagues at ELI.” —Marilyn K. Rahilly, Ph. D “As a Ph. D. candidate in linguistics, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience my own learning in the context of a multilingual classroom. In fact, the amount of knowledge I have gained working for the ELI is comparative to that which I have gained as a student myself.” —Justin Voigt, M.A. “I began teaching at the ELI in 1998, and looking back at the growth of the university and our English language programs over these last 14 years is very exciting. Many of the students I have had the honor to teach have also served as life coaches in my tenure, teaching me about their cultures, global views, and academic passions. Those students have gone on to be part of the exciting growth here at Mason, and I am ever enchanted by the role they will have in Mason’s future.” —Sarah Steadman, M.A. “The most gratifying part of this job is hearing back from students who’ve graduated and are leading successful lives and hearing that the ELI played a role in helping them achieve their dreams.” —Michael Smith, M.Ed.

capacity for academic success and personal growth. Through innovative programs, partnerships, and direct services, students discover their unique talents, passions and place in the world.

Catching the Mason spirit 1997 professional dev. comm. forms

2002 curriculum 2004 linguistics comm. forms practicum begins

2008 10-yr cea 2010 eli-cisa accred. awarded partnership forms

2003 5-yr cea 2008 eli 1997 student 2000 2005 services comm. forms

accred. awarded


2010 university life assessment project


30-Year Report



and Future Plans

Programs generally take time to establish themselves (e.g., scope, operations, mission, values, etc.) before they are ready to lead and collaborate with confidence. At the ELI, the past 30 years have marked times of program growth, resilience, and revision. Now, as we think about and plan for the future, we aim to build on 30 years’ worth of knowledge and refine program elements (a few of which are outlined below). We look toward the future with the assurance of a well-tested, proven partner in the Mason community. Based on several semesters of eliciting student feedback on services that meet their interests and enhance their experience in the ELI program, the ELI has identified goals related to student services: increase communication with students about ELI services, events, and policies; create opportunities for student engagement with the Mason academic community, including interaction with American students; recognize individual student achievement; and strengthen the sense of ELI community. To this end, we are piloting several services for Spring 2012, including student leader meetings, monthly recognition of an outstanding core student, a Student Involvement program, and a lecture series with guest speakers from the university. In the near future, we also plan to compile an ELI Student Writing Booklet, establish a more thorough workshop evaluation process, and create opportunities for students to observe academic classes. The ELI is honored that many of its former students have matriculated to academic studies and achieved success with their educational and professional goals. To celebrate their success, we plan to reinvigorate our Alumni Association with a regular showcase of ELI alumni.

Contact Information 4400 University Drive MSN 4C4 Fairfax, VA 22030 (p) 703-993-3660 (f) 703-993-3664


The English Language Institute

The ELI’s continuing success is due in large part to students who have had a positive experience in our program and recommended us to their friends and relatives. The academic and professional achievements of ELI alumni serve as a crucial motivator for current students who hope to obtain admission to a degree program and reach professional goals. In addition, we are aware that at the start of their studies, our students encounter a new cultural and academic environment. Our activities coordinator has set up a system in which former and continuing ELI students serve as orientation leaders for new students at the beginning of each semester. Receiving support from students who have gone through the same experience has been vital in helping new students adjust to their surroundings and focus on their studies.

Based on the success of the orientation leader project, we plan to find additional ways to enhance the connection between ELI alumni and current students. Maintaining a close network of past, present, and future students strengthens the ELI community by allowing us to recognize the individual achievements of our former students and inspire our current students to reach similar academic and professional goals.

Pursuing lifelong learning The ELI on the WWW Because ELI students come from all over the world, and because many return to their home countries after completing their language and academic studies in the United States, it is especially important that we take advantage of online tools to preserve the ELI community that has grown during the past 30 years. To that end, the ELI recently set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn group to support the personal and professional growth of its students. We are also in the process of designing a new website scheduled to launch in Fall 2012 that will connect these growing online communities with prospective students, reach new populations of applicants, and showcase the achievements of individuals and groups related to the ELI. By creating an active blog that presents student work, program photos and videos, faculty research, and articles of interest to language learners, as well as serve as a classroom tool itself, we hope to be able to reach out into the world wide web and create an ever-growing archive and living history intended to catalog the next 30 years of the ELI and beyond. The website will also serve as a resource across campuses for faculty who are interested in the multilingual experience at Mason. For those who are unfamiliar or inexperienced with teaching multilingual students, we hope to be able to provide guidance, support, and pedagogical strategies that can enhance the educational experience for teacher and student alike. The most exciting aspect of this project is that it can evolve from direct feedback and conversation within both groups.

Thank You! We appreciate that you have taken the time to read our 30-Year Report and can celebrate the achievements of our students and faculty within the international community at Mason.

30-Year Report






The ELI was established in 1981 to provide quality instruction in English as a second language that will develop the language and academic skills, as well as the cultural awareness needed, for the academic and/or professional purposes of its students. In addition to classroom instruction, students receive a wide variety of support services to facilitate their transition to life and study at a university in the United States. As a pipeline to degree status, the ELI mission fully supports Mason’s strategic goal of increasing international student enrollment.

The English Language Institute Celebrating 30 Years  

Since 1981, the ELI has helped prepare international students to succeed in their academic and professional careers by providing English lan...