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Intensive English program brings international attention to CMU


Intensive English program brings international attention to CMU

Each year, Colorado Mesa University welcomes international students to campus. Often, these students come from English-speaking countries or have studied the language and are proficient enough to succeed in CMU classes. Occasionally, a student who has expressed interest in attending does not meet the university’s English proficiency requirements. To meet the needs of these students, CMU has partnered with Bridge Linguatec, Inc., to open an intensive English program right on campus. The program’s first session began in October.

The program, called BridgePathways, prepares academically qualified students for full admission to CMU. Students are tested to gauge their English competency levels. Depending on their proficiency, they may take one eight-week session or as many sessions as needed to become competent in English.

Students may be conditionally admitted to CMU when they join the program if they fulfill all requirements except English proficiency. While enrolled, students live on-campus and enjoy full access to amenities and activities. Once they’ve completed BridgePathways, they may apply for full admission to Colorado Mesa University.

The partnership between Bridge and CMU has been mutually beneficial, said Annie Gingerich, associate director of CMU’s International Programs and Services. “[Bridge was] interested in opening an English language school on a university campus,” she said. “We were interested in it too because we had a lot of students inquiring, but they needed to study English first and I’d have to refer them to Denver.” Gingerich said that once someone is established in Denver, they will most likely want to attend a four-year school in the metro area.

Another vital aspect of the Bridge partnership is the company’s existing network of recruiters. “They’ve developed global connections that we don’t have. We could open an English language school [alone], but how would we get students here? They had experience recruiting internationally and working with agents,” said Gingerich.

She works with Bridge to identify agents around the world who will find students who are good matches for CMU. The university presently has nearly 50 international agents, a number that continues to grow. “[We’re] trying to get a variety of students from different places in the world, such as Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and China. So we’re not focusing really on any one area,” Gingerich said. “It’s a diverse group intentionally.”

CMU contracted Bridge Linguatec to open and operate the program, which means the company is in charge of developing the curriculum and staffing the program. They brought in Jim Whitmore, who is directing the academic program. He’s also instructing the two students enrolled in the current session until the program grows and he hires more staff.

“The next session starts in January and we’d like to see another group come in, maybe five to 15 students,” Gingerich said. “There are going to be some growing pains as we start to promote the program and educate agents that the school is up and running.” She’s already run into her fair share of obstacles. The first session was originally slated to begin in June, but important permissions for immigration paperwork were delayed at the federal level. Now that the first session is off the ground, things are running more smoothly.

The CMU community has eased the process by preparing for international students and welcoming them to campus. Almost two years ago, the International Education Committee was formed to help retain students, keep faculty and staff informed about the behind-the-scenes work CMU does and address the needs of international students.

Student Life’s Cultural Diversity Board helps with that effort through the International Student Alliance and events like MAVfest, a week-long celebration of the diverse cultures on campus. Gingerich also helps international students feel comfortable making such a major transition by developing programming designed to support them.

This campus-wide support is a trend she hopes will continue. “As the [international] enrollment continues to grow, we’ll continue to develop events both on campus and within the community to enrich the students’ experience while exposing the community to the cultures of the world,” she said.

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Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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