A Note from our Director, Tom Lewis
As Interim Director of the IEP, and before that as a part-time instructor in the IEP since 2006, I have had the great pleasure of meeting students from all over the world who have come to Bloomington to study English. But a special treat for me has been witnessing beginning-level students gradually going from being able to say little more than “yes,” “no,” and “my name is…” to being able to comfortably engage in conversation in English for an hour or more at a time. This is not to mention how dramatically their writing in English for academic purposes also improved.
No less special has been witnessing the effectiveness of IEP instructors, all of whom speak at least one other language than English and have spent substantial time in other countries than the US. This is in addition to the combination of professional preparation and passion they bring to their teaching. I have also seen at first-hand their effectiveness in their classes and the rapidity with which their students acquire a high level of proficiency in English. Upon reflection, I regard the teaching, the learning, and the process of acquiring English as a second language here in the IEP as little short of phenomenal.
I would like to share two other observations about the program: First, students from very diverse cultures interact on a daily basis and frequently become friends with one another and with members of the local Bloomington community, confirming that differences between people need not become barriers but can serve as springboards to an appreciation for otherness; second, the intensiveness of the IEP is remarkable in that few if any university students spend 4 hours a day 5 days a week in class, which should be a special badge of honor, especially for those who do so without a single absence from class.
This dedication and engagement I see in our students, while remarkable, comes as no surprise to me, as each student brings to the program a fascinating life story, a curiosity to connect and grow, and a passion for learning that, collectively, creates something very special to be a part of. I hope you can join us to experience just how special the process of learning a language and engaging with another culture can be. And, if you have questions, we are always just an email or phone call away.