Becoming confident in the English language can be the first step to a successful career. Not only does it open up a world of opportunities in study, profession and lifestyle, but it also greatly impacts how you interact with the wider world.
Today’s international students seek not just a language course, but a learning experience: one that immerses them in the culture of a brand-new country, and teaches them the nuances of global communication; one that provides a holistic student experience that supports them through their studies and beyond, and one that generates opportunities for networking, giving them the leg-up needed to pursue a successful career or further study once they graduate.
These schools can be a little harder to find, but one that fits the bill is the Institute of American Language and Culture (IALC) at Fordham University, New York.
“I’ve seen that the Fordham IALC program offers unusually personalized attention, high quality teaching, small class size, and a warm welcome to a diverse group of students,” says Dr. Marcia Pally, teacher of English and Legal Studies at the IALC. “Students make a lot of progress and a lot of friends.”
Located in the bustling heart of downtown Manhattan, students are exposed to all the culture, sophistication and wonder that New York has to offer. Take in the iconic sites and enriching experiences of Central Park, Lincoln Center, the Julliard School of Performing Arts, and the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, all the while improving your language skills as you go.
Throughout their studies, trips to cultural events, such as Broadway shows, museums visits, film screenings, and nature walks, help students soak up that quintessential New York vibe, instilling a sense of familiarity and connection to this awe-inspiring metropolis. This engagement with the local community takes students beyond the classroom and gives them an insider perspective on what life is like for an everyday New Yorker.
This learning-by-doing approach is interlaced throughout the IALC curriculum which is packed full of activities and excursions to get students out in the real world, where the learning that takes place is lasting and organic.
On top of appreciating the city’s rich history and architecture, students are encouraged to learn the workings of American society, understanding exactly what makes it so enticing and captivating to the rest of the world.
Fordham University strongly believes in educating the whole person, sticking firmly to its mission to “Strive for excellence in everything you do, care for others, fight for justice”. This belief in making the world a better place and being socially conscious is a thread that runs through everything the IALC pursues. Students are encouraged to engage with aspects of society that help them grow as a person while also benefitting the community as a whole.
In doing so, students partake in more unconventional school trips, such as visits to the New York Supreme Court offering an insight into the American justice system, hiking trips to the Catskills that imbue an appreciation of the state’s natural beauty, and hands-on engagement with local charities that allows students to connect with members of the local community, interact with native speakers and expand their world view, while also gaining invaluable work experience.
This approach to better understanding of the world around you and how to improve it also makes its way into the classroom with the introduction of content-based learning methods early in the course.
By incorporating English learning within a wider real world setting, students not only pick up essential grammar and vocabulary, but also tackle the complexities of some of the major issues facing the world today.
Students engage with relevant topics they are passionate about – such as the environment, culture and history, and social inclusion – arming themselves with the communication skills needed to address society’s most pressing demands and making them better prepared to achieve, both academically and professionally, once the course is complete.
This notion is reflected in the choice of electives and courses on offer as part of the IALC’s Intensive English Program.
Unlike many other English programs, the IALC offers a Language for Professional Development elective to give students an understanding of the intricacies of professional communication in different cultures. Perfect for learners who want to improve their English proficiency in a professional context, this course explores intercultural awareness, innovation, flexibility, and creative thinking and equips graduates with the essential skills needed to get ahead in the international workplace.
Socially and culturally aware electives on offer include Language for Social Change, which explores how language shapes and changes the way we interact as a community; and American Culture in Film, which uses film as a medium through which to study culture and practice speaking skills and language comprehension.
This learning-by-doing approach – both through content-based learning and real-world engagement – ensures students can pursue areas related to their passions and interests, thus entering the workforce as valuable, informed and effective participants.
This solid foundation for a successful career is further supported by the IALC’s connections with key players in the New York community and the wider world.
Fordham has strong links with the United Nations due to the university’s classification as a non-governmental organisation. This special status enables Fordham to foster an exclusive experiential and educational link, from the classroom to the United Nations headquarters and beyond.
But the learning experience doesn’t stop with the curriculum, since students at the IALC are continuously learning from their fellow peers. With such a diverse community of students, the opportunities to learn about other cultures are endless, as Jiexin Li, a student on the American Business English course, explains.
“My class has seven classmates who come from seven different countries and had six different professions in their own countries,” she says. “We shared our own experiences and culture with others while learning English.”
“Every time we had an in-class discussion or an after-class team preparation for a presentation, every one of my classmates was willing to listen to the others and tell their own opinions proactively. We always had an animated time together,” she adds.
At Fordham’s IALC, you don’t just perfect your English, but also gain the confidence and connections needed to succeed. The holistic approach to student learning means graduates gain a deeper understanding of American culture, while also grasping the universal communication expertise needed in today’s shifting global landscape. By embracing the diversity of the student body and activities on offer, students gain experience and language skills, all the while bolstering their chances of employment in the iconic Big Apple and the wider world.
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