Adding an international flair to summer at Harker, students from countries around the globe have come to the lower and upper school campuses to participate in Harker’s increasingly popular English Language Institute (ELI).
ELI provides overseas students with an opportunity to learn and practice their English skills. Many participants go on to attend top American and international schools. This summer, 57 students enrolled for the secondary division and 42 are attending the primary division.
First-time ELI student Hui-Hsuan (Maggie) Cheng, a rising grade 6 student from Taiwan, said that the best thing so far about the program has been “going to visit the tide pools and making new friends.” Cheng recalled that in a lesson prior to the field trip, her teacher had explained the importance of gently handling the tide pool animals.
ELI initially began as a year-round boarding school program, which closed in 2001 due to Harker’s upper school expansion. It evolved into the current summer program, which launched in 2004.
New to the program this summer is an optional “Very Interesting Places” (VIP) tour. Available to all ELI students (ages 6-16), the six-day VIP tour will take place at the conclusion of the program’s regular five-week academic session. The trip promises to take learning on the road, with California as the classroom. Come mid-August, 21 students will board a classic yellow school bus, setting off for an adventure. After visiting local theme parks, museums, various school campuses and tourist attractions, the trip will culminate with an overnight stay in Yosemite National Park.
According to ELI director Anthony Wood, all destinations have been carefully chosen to elevate historical and cultural awareness; allow students to create closer relationships with their peers and teachers; and provide enormous opportunity for continued English language development.
Additionally, older students interested in attending American boarding schools or universities will have the opportunity to visit and meet with staff at some of the area’s best schools.
Highlights of the VIP trip will include whale watching in Monterey, a Jelly Belly factory tour, educational visits to UC Berkeley and Stanford University, a Giants (versus Chicago White Sox) game, a scavenger hunt at Huddart Park and a day of fun at Great America theme park.
In Yosemite National Park, ELI students will view the majestic Yosemite Falls as well as visit the area’s museum and cultural center, with educational activities led by a park ranger. A short hike to the lower falls will provide inspiration for a writing assignment and picture journal.
“A specially designed instructional component will make each day’s adventure a learning experience catered to individual proficiency levels. Students will write, speak and read about their destinations, learn new vocabulary related to each new site, and have daily challenges involving English interaction in real-life situations. A travel journal will be kept to document their learning … and of course all the fun!” said Wood.