NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

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“I” is for IELP: English Learning Program Helping International Students Succeed at NDSU

Posted on Feb, 03 2014

Beginning college can be a difficult transition for many students. Now imagine you are starting college in an unfamiliar country where the instructors do not speak your native language. This is more common than you may think at NDSU. According to the NDSU Office of International Programs, during the Spring 2012 semester there were over 1,200 international students from 82 different countries enrolled at NDSU in both undergraduate and graduate programs.


So how do these students manage the cultural barrier and succeed at NDSU? There are a few ways NDSU Offices of International Programs and Distance and Continuing Education (DCE) are working to make their transition to college in the United States smooth and successful. When international students apply for admission to NDSU, they must take a test to assess their English language proficiency called the TOEFL test. If students score low on the TOEFL but meet all other requirements for admission to NDSU, they will take an additional exam once they arrive in the United States to determine if they will enroll in the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) offered through DCE.


The IELP program is there to help students that need a little extra assistance with English before enrolling fulltime at NDSU. These classes help improve English grammar, reading and vocabulary, as well as listening and speaking skills. According to Carol Bishop, Coordinator of IELP and part-time IELP instructor, the classes help immerse international students in the English language as well as build their confidence before enrolling in other NDSU courses. This helps improve the likelihood of successfully completing their degree in the United States.


As a coordinator and instructor with the IELP program, Bishop works closely with international students and is able to see firsthand how hard they work to learn and succeed. When reflecting on some memorable experiences during her time with IELP, Bishop tells a story of one student who barely spoke English when he arrived at NDSU but was determined to succeed.  “He successfully completed the IELP program but English was still a challenge for him,” reflects Bishop. “Anytime he came across a vocabulary word he was unfamiliar with, he wrote it down in a binder with the definition. He studied that binder throughout his entire time at NDSU and is now doing phenomenally in his classes.”


This story is not uncommon with students in the IELP program. It shows not only how hard many international students are working to succeed at NDSU, but also how having the opportunity to study in the United States really is a dream come true.


For more information about the IELP program visit the Office of International Programs website, or for more information about additional classes offered through DCE visit the Distance and Continuing Education website.