DENVER - “Have you ever had a dream and made it happen?” asked Anwar Ali during a presentation to her fellow students and supporters at the Oct. 12 graduation ceremonies in the University of Colorado Denver’s ESL (English as a Second Language) Academy.
Ali was one of five ESL graduates who came to the university from Europe, China and the Middle East to improve their English language proficiency and enroll in undergraduate degree programs. After graduation, Ali is ready to begin her classes in the pre-dentistry program, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The ESL Academy provides a rigorous curriculum that prepares international students for success at CU Denver. Full-time students are in classes three to five hours a day (23 hours per week) and are assigned several hours of homework daily. Five levels of instruction are offered: High Beginning, Low Intermediate, Intermediate, High Intermediate and Advanced, with each level requiring an eight-week term to complete.
Students in all levels take required Core Courses that include Listening/Speaking, Reading/Writing, and Grammar. The ESL Academy enriches the students’ learning experience by immersing them in English the minute they walk into the academy and also through educational field trips to places such as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Students hone their English skills by developing research papers and interviewing members of the Denver business community, including professionals at the Denver water company, Weight Watchers and chiropractic services.
During their presentations, each student expressed appreciation to supporters. “I would like to thank the ESL Specialists, my friends, and my husband,” said Eman Bahaitham. “I have learned so much.” Michaela Zach, whose home is Austria, commented on how much she had learned about other cultures through developing close friendships with her classmates from other parts of the world.
"Our commitment and the reason we created the ESL Academy is because we want every international student who comes here to succeed," said Carolyn North, assistant vice chancellor for International Affairs, University of Colorado Denver.
Ali has come full cycle with the ESL Academy. She started at the first level in January when the ESL Academy first opened the doors of its modern 12,000-square-foot facility. In less than a year, she has accomplished her dream of speaking and writing English well. Ali summed up her celebration speech with words of encouragement to the next class of ESL students. “I know this school is difficult. But it will make you the best English speaker you can possibly be — and the very best student.”
(Photo: ESL Academy student Anwar Ali, right, proudly displays her ESL Academy graduation certificate along with Rebecca Fisher, academy director.)