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The World Meets Here

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Author(s)

Jeff Haessler

The English Language Center helps students adjust to life in the U.S.

There’s a unique place at the University of Denver where students from dozens of foreign countries converge to learn a brand new language. English.

“It was like a crazy experience. I had no English (skills), which was kind of stressful for me,” says first year student Ken Akamatasu. He’s from Japan, born in Nagata, a popular ski resort area similar to Vail or Aspen.

Ken is one of hundreds of students every year who decide to come to the University of Denver even though they have little or no English language skills. “In six months I feel more comfortable speaking with even a native speaker,” Akamatasu explains. It’s all thanks to the English Language Center (ELC), which has been on campus since 1975 and recently celebrated 40 years of preparing students for success in their undergraduate and graduate academic programs.

Representing 91 countries, international students make up over 11 percent of the total student population of DU. Within the ELC, there are typically 150-200 students with 15-20 different countries represented.

“The ELC really gave us (an) opportunity to talk, discuss in class (many) topics. They helped me a lot by having individual meetings with a professor.”

Courses at ELC focus on academic writing, speaking, and U.S. culture.

“I took two classes that were just focusing on vocabulary. So, it was just words all day. I needed to learn like a dictionary,” says Andrea Guevara from Caracas, Venezuela, who recently graduated from the Sturm College of Law.

“I chose law because I always loved what it was related to, the community, the environment, people. Then I fell in love with corporate law. So, that’s why I chose to take the IBT program. International Business Transactions.”

“At its core, the ELC plays an extremely important role in helping to prepare international students with the communicative and cultural skills they need to transition successfully into their academic programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” explains Matt Griffin, director of the ELC. “More broadly, ELC students who come from diverse countries, cultures and backgrounds contribute greatly to the overall internationalization of the campus, providing opportunities for all DU community members to foster deeper relationships within the global community.”