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International students learn American ways through dinner, program
Olivia Sylvain / Intern
The Intensive English Language Institute hosted an event at different restaurants last Friday to familiarize international students who attend UNT with different American foods and customs.
Each year about 400 students from 26 different countries work with IELI to prepare to study at an American university.
About 20 students had dinner and were encouraged by their teachers and friends to try different foods. They were also introduced to the concept of gratuity, which is not common in other countries.
The instructors joined the students at different restaurants in Denton such as Giuseppe’s, an Italian restaurant, and Cartwright’s, a restaurant known for its chicken fried steak.
Many students have graduated from the institute and moved on to study at UNT said Curriculum Coordinator for Special Projects Sabine Thepaut.
She believes there are several benefits for international students who study with IELI.
“It helps them reach their goals to study in America, but there’s a social aspect to it also,” she said. “They’re getting to learn about not only American culture, but other cultures as well.”
The program also helps students learn English. The staff also offers information on day-to-day concerns such as local transportation, daycare and job resources.
“My first week here I didn’t understand English but my teachers and friends really helped me,” student Antonio Orozco said.
Orozco is a Venezuelan student who has been in the U.S. since last October. He plans to study business after he graduates from IELI. He’s listed as a Level 1 student in the program, while not considered to be a UNT student.
When students enter the program, they are tested and placed at one of seven levels, from 0-6, based on how much English they know. They spend five 8-week terms taking communication and writing courses along with supplemental courses.
“In order to study at an American university, they must meet the English proficiency requirements,” Amber Hallberg, IELI student coordinator, said. “They can also do this by taking the TOVAL exam but that doesn’t always test verbal communication.”
Hallberg and others at IELI coordinate a number of events throughout the semester to celebrate the many cultures represented within the institute.
This semester students will take a trip to the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Oklahoma and celebrate both the Chinese New Year and the New Year’s carnival.