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Conversation Hour helps international students understand English language and culture

June 30, 2017

"The sun shines on shop signs" … "Wishy-washy Wanda watched her watch get washed" …

Nevermind trying to say them five times, fast. These tongue twisters are tricky enough to say once for English Language Institute (ELI) students mastering a new language, yet grasping the concept of these silly sentences with a sense of humor.

Speaking and writing these common "play on words" is just one of the informal lessons during Conversation Hours ELI hosts twice a month for students enrolled in its intensive written and oral language courses.

The lunchtime gatherings enhance the students’ classroom experience, providing a chance to practice pronunciation and learn characteristics of the English language, says ELI Student Services Coordinator and Lecturer Ellen Barrett, who facilitates the discussions.

In an effort to assist students in a life that can be quite different from their home countries, Barrett says Conversation topics are chosen to support them in acclimating to American culture and college life. Based on student input, upcoming topics are transportation on July 12 and time management on July 26. Conversation Hours start at 12:30 p.m. in 408 Manoogian.

Last month, knowing the difficulties Muslim students face in keeping up with studies during Ramadan, a monthlong religious observance that ended June 24, Barrett offered tips to Saudi Arabian students who were fasting from dawn to sundown, preparing and sharing a late night meal, rising early for prayer, and still expected in class each morning.

"The ELI staff and faculty felt it was important to reach out and help them through the challenge of meeting both responsibilities," says ELI Lecturer and Public Relations Coordinator Dean-Michael Lynn.

For more information, contact Barrett, eh1099@wayne.edu

The English Language Institute is a division of The Office of International Programs, which leads Wayne State’s global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university’s global agenda.