Aug 04, 2011An opportunity to improve their English and experience American culture has brought 26 international students to campus for a four-week immersion experience.
Collegetown is a partnership between Concordia Language Villages and Concordia College.
The program combines classroom academic work with cultural experiences. Most of the students are receiving three semester hour credits from Concordia.
The students learned about baseball at a Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks game, witnessed the scale of Red River Valley farming at wheat and dairy farms, marveled at the technology in use at the Microsoft campus, and enjoyed nature at Itasca State Park.
“It’s an immersion experience all the way,” says the dean of the program, Dr. Lisa Sethre-Hofstad, program director of Norwegian and Scandinavian studies at the college. “The students improve their English speaking and writing skills, and they practice English by participating in a variety of activities where only English is spoken.”
Twenty-three of the students are from China and attend United International College in Zhuhai, near Hong Kong. UIC is a partner institution with the Minnesota Private College Council, of which Concordia is a member. Two students from Italy and one from Poland are in their final year of high school.
Collegetown started two years ago as a way to extend Concordia Language Villages’ brand of English language and cultural immersion to college-age students, says Christine Schulze, vice president for Concordia Language Villages.
Many of the students have increased their English speaking ability while on campus.
After an afternoon spent baking in Sethre-Hofstad’s kitchen, a young man who chose the English name Kyle suggests that the group only share the sweet treats with other students who speak English among themselves during their free time.
“A reward for thinking in English,” he says.
One of the UIC students, Zhou Mengjie, will remember Concordia for the attention teachers paid her.
“They are so patient,” she says. “Sometimes our Chinese accents are hard to understand, but they keep working with us to correctly pronounce words.”
Andrea Di Modugno from Italy says time spent in the home of a Moorhead host family is most memorable for him.
“Being in someone’s home is a good cultural experience because I could compare how American families live with those in Italy,” he says.
Zhou and Di Modugno say the best aspect of the immersion experience was getting to know people from other cultures and forming new and more informed opinions about them.