Tutorium in Intensive English celebrates 40 years

Tutorium in Intensive English, 40 years

A UIC department that helps non-native English speakers is reaching a milestone.

The Tutorium in Intensive English is focused on teaching introductory- to advanced-level English reading, writing, listening and speaking skills to second language learners.

“We prepare [students] for university study and professional development or advancement,” said Fran Michalski, the department’s associate director.

This month, Michalski and other staff, faculty and students will celebrate the Tutorium’s 40th year of teaching linguistically diverse students and professionals from nearly 30 countries.

“The biggest change over time is that there’s more student-centered learning,” said Deborah Sandstrom, a curriculum coordinator.

The Tutorium now houses three different programs.

The Intensive English Program is a noncredit, full-time program that serves both international and domestic students. Classes, which meet for 20 hours each week, are paired with field trips, counseling and seminars on admission processes for U.S. colleges.

UIC Global, a pathway program, offers noncredit English language classes, which are taught by Tutorium faculty.

English for International Professionals is a flexible, part-time program for current members of the UIC community and international professionals from the Chicago area. Intermediate- to advanced-level options include online or traditional classes, continuing education courses, and preparation for tests that assess English language ability, such as TOEFL and IELTS. Private tutoring for small groups is also available.

“We can customize [classes and curriculum] to whoever the client is, whether they are internal or external, and we don’t just provide language,” said Jason Romano, the Tutorium’s director. He added that the department extends academic, professional and cultural support.

As a result, the department’s curriculum has helped a broad range of people, including UIC students, and, recently, government delegates from Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.

Highly qualified faculty with master’s degrees in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) teach all Tutorium courses. Almost all of the department’s faculty and staff  have lived overseas and learned a second language.

“So, we don’t just know this from books, we know this from experience,” Michalski said.

The program has also been an accredited site of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation since 2001.

Former student Nehama Morton said the quality of the Tutorium’s teaching practices is one reason why she recommends it to family and friends. She took courses after coming to the U.S. from Israel 30 years ago.

“The program gave me confidence and prepared me for college in general,” said Morton, who is now an adjunct professor of social work at Northeastern University. “I don’t think I could have done what I did in my career without it.”

To learn more about the Tutorium in Intensive English, visit tie.uic.edu

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