GGC offers classes to help students succeed in college

Bhaumik Rao didn’t speak a word of English when he arrived in the United States from India six years ago, and while he could converse with his friends when he entered Georgia Gwinnett College last fall, his vocabulary, writing and grammar skills were not up to par with his peers. In stepped Mary Greiss-Shipley, director of the GGC Student Success Programs, and today Bhaumik speaks English as well as any other student at the college.

Bhaumik Rao didn’t speak a word of English when he arrived in the United States from India six years ago, and while he could converse with his friends when he entered Georgia Gwinnett College last fall, his vocabulary, writing and grammar skills were not up to par with his peers. In stepped Mary Greiss-Shipley, director of the GGC Student Success Programs, and today Bhaumik speaks English as well as any other student at the college.

“The Student Success Program was very beneficial to me,” Bhaumik, 19, said. “My writing is better, I read and comprehend what I’m reading now, and my vocabulary has improved.” An information technology major, he hopes to one day own his own business.

Bhaumik is one of more than 100 students who has benefitted from the Student Success Programs through English for Academic Purposes (EAP) – better known as English for Speakers of other Languages (ESL) – a course for high school graduates who are non-native speakers of English and lack fluency in academic English.

His friend Kathy Cheng, 18, who is a sophomore at GGC as well, benefitted from the Student Success classes.

A native of China, Kathy has lived in the United States since she was six, and if you talk with her, she sounds like any other college student in Georgia, complete with the hint of a Southern accent. She didn’t, however, score as high as she would have liked on her placement exams and opted to take the EAP class and another English course that focuses on communications skills.

Kathy, who chose her American name at age eight, lives at home with her parents who don’t speak any English, only Mandarin Chinese. She says that going back and forth between English with her friends and Chinese with her parents made it difficult for her to become proficient in either language. She feels that after taking the student success classes her English is much improved and she is a better student.

“The classes are small and there is a great deal of individual attention,” the business major says. “The EAP class really concentrated on the basics, and I believe it helped me when I took my college English courses. I would give it a good review.”

The English classes are a two-class sequence designed to help students build a strong foundation for their academic efforts by focusing on the core concepts and skills of written communication and argument. The reading classes are designed to provide an innovative, multidisciplinary, individualized flexible curriculum that prepares students for academic study and inspires them to accomplish personal goals as life-long learners. The Student Success Programs were developed to support the student as a whole person, academically, socially and personally in preparation for success in a global society.

Dr. Greiss-Shipley says that the Student Success Programs at GGC are designed to support and enhance students’ academic, intellectual and social development, and to promote their retention and graduation.

“We are committed to the principle of promoting successful ongoing academic and life skills to a diverse student population regardless of their academic or life preparation. Student Success Programs value academic excellence, individualized quality service and community outreach.”

Maria Ruiz, a psychology major from Columbia, praises the Student Success Programs too. She was an ESL student in high school and didn’t want to return to the remedial classes when she got to GGC, but the EAP program made a believer out of her.

“I didn’t like the idea of going back to ESL, but it made an enormous difference for me,” she says smiling. “It wasn’t a waste of time. I learned so much and I would recommend the program to any student who doesn’t speak English well. I have no regrets.”

Maria says her writing and speaking skill vastly improved after taking the classes, and she even recommended the program to her friend who decided to attend GGC.

“I told her that the classes would benefit her as they have helped me,” the shy 19-year-old sophomore said. She added that the classes have helped her in her other classes, particularly when she is asked to give oral presentations – which is often.

Maria praised the professors too. “They are always there when you need them – even after you ‘graduate’ from the EAP program. If I am struggling with something, I feel comfortable going back to them for help. It’s nice to know they are always there.”

Some of the English for Academic Purposes classes GGC offers through the Student Success Program include:

EAP 0090 – EAP for Success Integrated Skills II
Students use college-level materials to develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills necessary for success in academic work. Students will demonstrate understanding of and be able to respond critically to college-level material in speech and writing, which will include writing longer reports and essays. Exit test required.

EAP 0091 – EAP for Success Applied Grammar II
Students review and refine organizational and editing skills, improve usage and grammar application while writing essays and reports. Students may only register for Applied Grammar II based on faculty recommendation.

EAP 0092 – EAP for Academic Communication Skills II
Oral communication skills are developed at the advanced level. Focus is on accent reduction, listening comprehension, appropriate language usage in various registers and oral presentations using classroom technology. Placement in the course is contingent upon COMPASS Listening score or successful completion of EAP for Success Academic Communication Skills I. Prerequisite: EAP 0082.

EAP 0080 – EAP for Success Integrated Skills I
Students use pre-college level materials to develop academic communications skills with an emphasis on integrating reading and writing. Students will demonstrate understanding of and be able to respond critically to material, which will include writing paragraphs and essays.

EAP 0081 – EAP for Success Applied Grammar I
Students develop grammar skills in the context of writing compositions and analyzing reading passages. Punctuation, usage, and linguistic concerns of non-native speakers of English are addressed.

EAP 0082 – EAP for Success Academic Listening/Speaking Skills I
Speaking and listening skills are developed at the high intermediate level. Focus is on listening comprehension, note-taking, pronunciation and oral presentation skills.

Georgia Gwinnett College opened its doors in August 2006 as the nation’s first four-year public college founded in the 21st century, and the first four-year public college founded in Georgia in more than 100 years. GGC is a four-year, liberal arts college that provides access to targeted baccalaureate level degrees that meet the economic development needs of the growing and diverse population of Gwinnett County and the northeast Atlanta metropolitan region. It produces contributing citizens and future leaders for Georgia and the nation. Its graduates are inspired to contribute to their local, state, national, and international communities and are prepared to anticipate and respond effectively to an uncertain and changing world.

For Further Information
Contact: Merri M. Brantley
Assistant Director of Media
678.407.5660/770.361.4364

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