Updates to the UM-Flint Bridge Program

Dr. Emily Feuerherm is a faculty member in the Department of English. She is working to establish a bridge program fthat will enhance the learning experiences of international students at UM-Flint. On February 11th, an open forum was held to discuss results of a campus survey on the program and gather feedback from those attending. Following is her account of the event:

The open forum, Building Bridges and Scaffolding Success, on February 11 welcomed 14 students and 31 faculty/staff to discuss the development of a Bridge Program for international students. At the forum, panelists began by discussing the undergraduate courses that will be available beginning this summer and the 2015-16 year. Many faculty and staff had questions about how the courses would be integrated into the current requirements for undergraduate writing. It was discussed that these courses will provide students whose native language is not English with targeted instruction in the kinds of writing and speaking skills that are required in their academic courses. Currently, all students who need additional help with writing and academic skills are placed in ENG100 and ENG109, but these courses were developed for students whose first language is English. The new courses, LIN101 and LIN102, will provide non-native-English speaking students with English as a Second Language instruction that targets their particular needs and will prepare them for success in ENG111 and their other academic courses. An elective course, LIN104, will offer instruction in speaking and listening skills.

The development of these courses was reviewed and supported by multiple stakeholders in fall, 2014: the International Center, the Student Success Center, the English Language Program, the Undergraduate Writing Program, the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching, and the English Department. The findings from the surveys conducted in January, 2015, supported the need for these classes. Faculty and staff indicated that writing academic papers and participating in class discussions were skills with which non-native-English speaking students needed the most support. Students indicated that the social and writing expectations they encountered upon entering the university were what they struggled with most. The surveys’ findings supported the development of credit-bearing ESL classes for undergraduates, but also indicated that other services, such as workshops, would be beneficial.

On March 16, from 9:30-noon, in the Tuscola room of the WSW Building, a workshop for students will be held focusing on intercultural communication. This workshop is designed for ALL students: graduate and undergraduate; international and domestic. Two speakers with years of experience navigating between cultural models of communication will present their experiences, and the workshop itself will be guided by Emily Feuerherm, Asst. Professor of Linguistics in the English department, with support from the International Center.

A workshop for faculty will be offered on April 1, from 1-4 p.m., in the Happenings Room, UCEN. The workshop will again be led by Emily Feuerherm, Asst. Professor of Linguistics, whose background is in teaching English as a Second Language. The workshop will build on instructors’ practices for scaffolding learning by highlighting the theories and practices for second language acquisition pedagogy and applying it to their teaching methods. This workshop is supported by the English department, the TCLT, and the International Center.

For more information, contact Dr. Feuerherm at feuerher@umflint.edu.