English Short Course for the 2014 Arryman Fellows
English short course for the 2014 Arryman Fellows offers an interesting way to adapt with the local culture.
One of the perks of being an Arryman Fellow is joining a three-week English as a Second Language (ESL) short course, which is specially designed for the newly arrived fellows. The tutor for this year is Kathleen Geraghty, a Northwestern graduate from the Linguistics Department. The intensive course lasted for three weeks for about three hours per day. The course was mainly conducted at the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University, with several occasional field trips to downtown Evanston.
During the course, the Arryman Fellows received not only English language tutorial but also how to adapt with American culture, both in academic and casual settings. For instance, Mrs. Geraghty taught the Arryman Fellows how to lead a good and fruitful discussion as a student or as a teaching assistant (TA). She also taught the fellows how to create an impressive elevator pitch - a very brief introduction line - which will be very useful when they meet their future colleagues or professors in various occasions such as seminar, conference or casual meeting in their respective department hallway. One of the most important lessons that the fellows received from their tutor was how to pronounce words in American English accent, which is very different compared to other English accents, such as Singlish, Taglish or even British English.
Mrs. Geraghty employed various teaching methods that made the tutorial seemed less serious but gave a deep impact and significantly improved the fellows’ understanding about ESL and American culture. For instance, in one of the tutorial sessions, Mrs. Geraghty took the Arryman Fellows to a local coffee shop in downtown Evanston. She wanted to introduce the service culture in the US. The fellows learned that tipping is a very important custom in American service culture because it shows our appreciation to good service of the waitress. On a different note, the fellows also learned that pronouncing “café latte” in American English accent is slightly different compared to Indonesian English accent. It seems unimportant, but one of the fellows almost ended up with a cup of tea instead of latte because the way Indonesian pronounces latte is almost similar with tea for the native speaker.
The short course also helped the fellows to prepare for the SPEAK and VERSANT test, which are required by the International Summer Institute (ISI) to measure English proficiency of the incoming international students. ISI requires the new international students to pass the tests, otherwise, those who failed the tests will need to join additional classes in order to improve their English skills.
In conclusion, the short course was very useful for the new fellows to adjust the new environment in the US. The short course was a great initiative by the Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS) to maximize the potentials of the new fellows so that they can easily immerse with Northwestern University and its culture.
Yoes C. Kenawas, 2014 Arryman Fellow.
* The Arryman Fellows would like to deliver their highest gratitude to Kathleen Geraghty for her guidance, passion and determination in helping the fellows to adjust with their new life in the US.