Posted: 8/05/04

Changing Languages Changes Lives at TAMIU



This Fall, a brave group of students will strive to improve their lives by enrolling in Texas A&M International University's International Language Institute's English as a Second Language courses.

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced ESL levels begin Tuesday, August 24. Day classes are intensive, eight-week courses that meet from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the evening classes are semi-intensive sixteen-week courses meeting from 7:30 to 9:45 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Shannon McBurnette-Arguelles, ILI instructor, explained the teaching method is designed to dramatically increase students' ability to communicate.

"One thing that sets our program apart from other ESL courses is that it is a dynamic program, using interactive methodology and our classes are small, which encourages rapid language acquisition," said McBurnette-Arguelles.

She said the courses use many methods to help students practice and improve their English, including using English to discuss coursework, pair and group exercises, dialogues, skits, contests, games, individual and group presentations, oral debates, group and individual writing assignments, and even listening to the Laredo Public Library's "Dial-a-Story."

Multi-media is an integral part of the learning process at ILI, she said, and provides students with exposure to technology they may have never used before.

"In our advanced classes, we teach our students how to give oral presentations while using PowerPoint," she explained, "When they're done with our classes, they're able to go into any future classroom or business meeting with the necessary skills. It's a major confidence booster!"

In addition to English language skills, McBurnette-Arguelles has one other thing she hopes her students take away from her classroom: confidence.

"I tell my students, 'When you leave here, we want you so prepared for your future that you never need to see me again.' It's not that we don't want to see them; actually, we enjoy seeing their success. The point is that we want them to feel confident that they can 'make it' on their own, in whatever field they enter," she said, "Our classes teach the foundation, nuances, and structures of English and try to instill a concept of a 'self-learner.'"

Finally, McBurnette-Arguelles hopes her students become involved in the community while practicing and improving their English.

"We encourage our students to volunteer at local community organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity or the Laredo Public Library. Volunteering opens up opportunities for practicing their language without the pressure of a grade and helps them get to know people from other cultures," she said, "Students start to feel more self-assured about their abilities because they can actually see how their second language helped them to help others."

Registration for ESL courses is underway and prospective students who need student visas are encouraged to visit ILI as early as possible. Students who successfully complete ESL 106 with a "B" or better are exempt from the TOEFL, when applying to TAMIU.

For more information, please contact 326.2136, e-mail ili@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Anthony J. and Georgia A. Pellegrino Hall, room 302.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.


Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu