Culture is a vital aspect at Minnesota State University, Mankato and is the foundation that Maverick traditions are built upon. During the 150 eminent years since MSU’s establishment various programs have come alive and are doing wonders to educate students on scholastic principles.
The Language Partners Program is one such program that focuses on Cultural Exchange, Academic Support and building a Global Community. Nelson Olga, English Language Programs Coordinator and a veteran of the program states that the program is excellent in aiding students adjust to college life as it goes beyond the academic aspect. Olga is also the Coordinator of the Language Partners Program that is affiliated with the Center for English Language Programs.
Dr. Glen Poupore, Director of the Center for English Language Programs, Intensive English Program and Language Partners Program states that since its inception in 2014 the LPP has seen highly productive growth.
The Language Partners Program goes hand in hand with the Intensive English Program and is mandatory for all students in the IEP.
The Language Partners Program pairs students enrolled at MSU with International students in the Intensive English Program. Bi-weekly basis meetings, between IEP student and Language Partner throughout the semester to develop cultural communication skills in addition to supporting each other academically is essentially what the program mainly entails.
Dr. Poupore states that when the program first began, majority of the Language Partners in the program were mainly Honor Program Students, but as the program grew recruitment of more students to work with the IEP students was required.
Honors Program students are required to complete a global citizenship component related to their program thus the Language Partners Program provides the ideal avenue to achieve that. Currently with the prolific development of the Language Partners Program there are 40 volunteers with only about one third of the students from the Honors Program.
Dr. Chelsea Mead, Assistant Professor in Anthropology is a partner to the LPP who made the program a course requirement for one of her courses. Through making the LPP a course requirement, the program automatically gets more volunteers plus it acts as a perfect way to Language Partner student’s comprehension on a course by making them work out of class.
The LPP Program would also be beneficial to any course that entails cultural exchange by enabling students to get a broader perspective of culture from interaction with IEP students.
Olga states that the reputation of the program is formidable with graduates and language partners of the LPP highly recommending it to their peers. “Partners in the program are matched according to various credentials such as majors, interests or availability,” Olga says, “the Language Partner aspect of the program is also open to all students, but they are required to meet certain criteria before being accepted into the program.”
The Program is also available for International Students who wish to fulfill their Cultural Contribution Scholarship hours, but they must meet certain specifications to be a Language Partner.
“The major benefit for the IEP students in the program is english language skill development,” Dr. Poupore says, “English is a second language for most international students, especially those in the IEP thus this program gives them a superb out of class experience with no restrictions on expressing themselves.”
Dr. Poupore states that the LPP is also beneficial for Language Partners as they get the opportunity to immerse themselves in another culture, explore & gain knowledge from the new culture learnt. Olga states that the LPP instills confidence in IEP students in terms of communication and enriches the perspective of the Language Partners by making them more amenable to ideas across the board.
The Language Partners Program is a tremendous initiative started to create all-round development through interaction between students. The Program continues to grow annually with increased progress among all involved in the program.
MSU’s ongoing success in providing resources that enable students to develop real world thinking is clear with programs like the LPP in place. MSU’s prosperous history unceasingly expands with greater depth thanks to programs such as the LPP.
Feature photo courtesy of Nelson Olga.