The Daily Gamecock

English Program for Internationals benefits students

Gamecocks from 34 countries learn listening, speaking, writing skills

 EPI has students representing 34 different countries at USC, said Pauline Lim, an EPI professor at USC. She also said about 280 students, primarily from Saudi Arabia and China, are currently studying at USC.

"The students take three different English classes throughout the day, teaching them listening, speaking, grammar and writing skills," said Lim.

The teachers who instruct these students every day revealed that the celebration event counted for their listening and speaking lesson of the day.

Since the EPI program continues to grow, professor Terry Goodfellow said this semester was the first the program had to put a cap on the number of students accepted.

Having lived in Holland for 15 years, Goodfellow understands the difficulties of living in a country where no one speaks your language.

"I know how it feels to be an outsider," Goodfellow said. "It's exhausting to live your life in another language. I not only teach the students how to speak English, but try to give them some American culture as well."

The EPI professors hold beginning-of-term and end-of-term celebrations for the students to get them more acclimated with America, South Carolina and the university. But some EPI students and professors wish that more American students would become involved with the international students.

"To make them feel at home, one of the simplest things you can do is just say hi," Goodfellow said.

Salim Alriyami, a first-year student at USC from Oman, intends to increase involvement between international and American students by launching the Conversation Partner Program next week.

The program lets international students have an American partner to talk to once a week for an hour to practice conversation skills.

"Sometimes international students feel like it's a mystery to try and meet Americans," Goodfellow said. "The Conversation Partner Program is a good way for them to meet American students."

Alriyami said EPI has helped him learn English and that conversation helps a lot. He also said that EPI is better than programs his friends have attended at other universities.

Alriyami had his first Thanksgiving dinner with an American family this year, eating turkey for the first time. He said Americans are friendly and he loves South Carolina.

"I've learned things in America I didn't know before I came here — like online shopping. It's so much easier," Alriyami said.

Having so many international students attending this school creates opportunities for American and international students to get to know each other.

"Cultures tend to get generalized and stereotyped," Goodfellow said. "The best way to break the stereotype is to get to know these students. Getting to know EPI students is a great way to meet some really cool people."