The University of New England’s English Language Centre (ELC), which recorded one of its biggest-ever intakes of students last year, is celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2012.
This anniversary year will see a number of innovations at the ELC, including – apart from those in the academic program itself – the introduction of an e-newsletter featuring ELC graduates and events at UNE, and the addition of camping and canoeing excursions to the program of the study tours that the Centre provides for groups of students from overseas universities.
The first study tour for 2012 will be in February, when 12 students from Chubu University in Nagoya, Japan, will come to UNE for four weeks of English language tuition and Australian cultural experience with an overall environmental and Indigenous Australian theme.
In September, 15 students from Tsurumi University in Tokyo will venture into the Australian outdoors to enjoy a two-night canoeing trip in the Gloucester region during their two-week study tour program.
While UNE’s relationship with Chubu University has brought students from Nagoya to Armidale for the past eight years, last year saw the ELC welcome its first group of students from Tsurumi University. The three students returned home at the end of 2011 after a 30-week English language program.
“They stayed at first in the homes of Armidale families,” said Mark Cooper, the Centre’s Deputy Director of Studies. “These ‘homestay’ arrangements enable students to make connections throughout the local community and gain a rich cross-cultural experience. And the families themselves form international friendships that continue into the future.”
Another program for 2012 using ‘homestay’ arrangements will be the six-week English Language and Early Childhood Education program, now in its fourth year, for students from the Hong Kong Institute of Education. About 20 of these students will be at the ELC in May and June, improving their English language skills, attending lectures by UNE specialists in early childhood education, and engaging with local pre-school centres to identify differences in early childhood theory and practice between Hong Kong and Australia.
The study tours from overseas universities account for only 5 per cent of the Centre’s students, the majority of whom have come to Armidale from all over the world to enter full-time degree programs at UNE. The ELC provides courses in academic English that enable these students to embark on their studies with confidence.
A ceremony at the end of last year marked the completion of these courses by 140 students from China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea. Among them were three young men from Saudi Arabia who – already Diploma graduates in their home country – are studying towards Bachelor of Nursing degrees at UNE. All three of them are employees of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health – Tariq Alanazi in an intensive care unit, Alghareeb Alsamari in an adult cardiology centre, and Saud Alharbi (pictured here) as a nursing tutor – and all three are studying at UNE as recipients of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarships. Mr Alanazi said the ELC program had been “very challenging” but had definitely improved his language skills, and Mr Alharbi added that it had improved their spoken as well as written communication in English.