When one goes to a new country, it is as important to learn the culture as it is to learn the language. The Intensive English Program (IEP) at Pitt State has the goal to make sure that students who go through the program finish with the English skills needed to succeed in university as well as an understanding of American culture and customs.
This week, teachers from PSU’s IEP hoped to show students in the program some ways typical Americans enjoy spending time outdoors. The IEP hosted a Lake Day event from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday Feb. 8 at the University Lake.
“Part of our mission is to help international students not only learn English but learn culture,” said IEP instructor, Cherlyn Ingram. “We get to fish, which is a very normal activity Americans do when they can, we have a picnic, and being out and enjoying the outdoors is maybe part of that cultural aspect, and to talk to other Americans they wouldn’t be talking to in class.”
The students who attended had the opportunity to fish in the lake, play several outdoor games such as croquet, eat at a picnic, and spend time practicing their English.
“I liked doing fishing,” said IEP student Surya Sukul Katiki Reddy from India. “I did not do (fishing) anytime in my country, this is my first time, so I was excited. It’s good we had good interactions outside than the class and we had lots of fun doing this type of events.”
According to Reddy, having events outside of a traditional class setting are helpful as they give students the opportunity to try activities they haven’t done before.
“It will be helpful to us and interesting because… if it was not for this event, I would have not tried anywhere because I don’t know how to do fishing,” Reddy said. “Here we had the chance to do it.”
Ingram said the Lake Day also gave students the opportunity to practice their English in a natural setting.
“Classroom is a sort of artificial set up and we do a lot of very specific types of learning but this opportunity to talk with other people is very important because they’re really using the language, and nobody is going to correct them; that’s not the purpose of this,” Ingram said. “It’s really just to communicate, to try to use whatever they have learned, in a natural setting.”
Shari Alramadan, freshman in engineering, from Kuwait is in the Preparation for Academic Student Success (PASS) Program which is a pathway course for international students who are taking academic classes at PSU concurrently with a PASS course as they don’t quite meet the English proficiency requirement for Pitt State. Alradmadan thought the event was a good opportunity to spend time with his teachers and classmates outside the classroom.
“I see my classmates,” Alradmadan said. “For practice for English language it’s very good, and… you know teacher more and classmate.”
Ingram said she hopes the students were able to have “fun at the event” and that the event helped build the relationship between the teachers and students from the program.
“I think one thing is they get to relax a little bit and have some fun and realize it’s not all about studying,” Ingram said. “In IEP I think it’s really important that the rapport between student and teacher is solid, it’s good, it’s positive because the student needs to be able to relax and feel like the teacher is not somebody who is just laying down the rules and grading all the time, but is somebody that is trying to facilitate their learning.”