ALP Students Min-Jeong Koh, Hyun-Ju Kim and Kanoe Kobayashi
More than 25 Japanese and South Korean students from Shanghai's Fudan University will be coming to Columbia this September for a new, two-year intensive English program offered through Continuing Education's American Language Program (ALP).
The students chose to leave their home countries to study at Fudan University, one of the oldest and most respected universities in China, to complete a highly competitive, five-year course of study combining economics and foreign trade with rigorous language studies in Chinese and English. Two of those years will be spent at Columbia, providing these students with an opportunity to break down English language and cultural barriers, critical hurdles for success in the global economy.
"We are delighted at the prospect of hosting the Fudan University students, a substantial portion of whose undergraduate experience will be at Columbia," said Frank Wolf, dean of Continuing Education. "While the students study English intensively, they will continue to study economics and foreign trade with a member of the Fudan University faculty who will accompany them. Those who have sufficiently developed English skills will supplement their experience by enrollment in relevant Columbia undergraduate courses in economics and business. The program promises to enhance Columbia's already substantial profile as the most international of elite universities."
ALP Chairman David Quinn said that upon completion of Fudan's five-year program, the students will have gained not only a broad knowledge of international trade and economics but also will be fluent in three languages -- their native Japanese or Korean, Chinese and English.
"These students will be perfectly situated to work in economic development in East Asia," Quinn said. "English is the language of business in the world today. We hope that we can help them become the future economic movers and shakers of East Asia."
Quinn negotiated the collaborative program with Tokyo's International Studies Institute (ISI), a Japan-chartered company that seeks to promote education outside of Japan, and has agreements with other institutions around the world, among them the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University. Through Columbia's new arrangement, ISI has referred students to Columbia's American Language Program for two years as non-degree students.
Last June, ALP sponsored a similar program for students also referred by ISI through a one-year, English-only program. Eleven Japanese students from Beijing University spent a year at Columbia through this arrangement, taking intensive English courses, the same courses that are on tap for next year's Fudan students.
Nineteen-year-olds Norihisa Kodama from Chiba (near Tokyo), and Kumiko Hayashi from Nagano were among those students last year, who after their year at Columbia are headed back to continue their studies at Beijing University. Kodama and Hayashi agreed that the ALP courses emphasized reading and writing, and have prepared them quite well to survive regular classes at an English-speaking university.
They also agreed that the experience of living in New York contributed to their learning English. However, Kodama said there was a temptation to socialize only in their native language with other students in the program.
"Some students only spoke English when they were in school," Kodama said.
Moving beyond that comfort zone required some effort, he said, but was well worth it. He managed to find a niche that enabled him to improve his conversation skills and experience more of American culture. For him that place was a church.
"Once students get out from their ethnic group, New York, the multiethnic community, is a great place to learn not only English but also different ideas and cultures," Kodama said. "Through this experience, I have been learning lots of things. If students once go into the American communities, it surely helps [them] to learn English."
ALP's language courses are taught using the communicative approach, in which, depending on the instructor, as many as 20 hours per week are devoted to sustained classroom examination of one theme, before switching to a new one. Topics range from international marriage, to whether marijuana should be legalized, to issues of globalization. Students write an essay at the conclusion of each topic discussion, usually once per week.
One of the oldest programs for English as a second language in the United States, the American Language Program at Columbia is already well known on campus, especially for assisting international teaching fellows with English and presentation skills. Quinn said more and more graduate schools are calling on the ALP for this purpose.
Quinn said the ALP can design programs tailored to the needs of specific areas of the university, for example, its program in English fluency for the School of International and Public Affairs.
"We serve whoever needs us," he said. "We are experienced in developing programs for internationals. Our faculty and our program are leaders in the field of English language pedagogy and curriculum development."
Quinn added that ALP's mission is to help promote internationalization of the university. "International education has been around for a long time at Columbia, and now more than ever, as Senator Fulbright knew, it must be a major American export," he said.
Continuing Education at Columbia offers the quality and rigor of an Ivy League institution to a wide array of people with diverse needs and interests from the New York area, the nation and around the world. Students can tailor their education to fit their academic, professional or enrichment needs and requirements. Students may enroll in university undergraduate and graduate courses offered by more than 40 academic departments and programs in Columbia's School of Arts and Sciences also attended by matriculated students, choose one of the structured post-baccalaureate programs or pursue professional advancement through a certificate program. Instructors teaching in the specialized certificate programs are experts in their fields, and classes combine the academic strengths of Columbia with the current knowledge of practicing professionals to produce consistently cutting-edge programs.