Once again Harker’s English Language Institute (ELI) attracted an increasing number of students from all over the world seeking top-level English instruction. Held during the summer on both the lower and upper school campuses, the program was open to international students in the elementary division (ages 6-11) and secondary division (ages 12-16).
Many of the ELI participants signed up for the program in preparation for admission to American boarding schools and English-speaking schools worldwide. Small classes, a nurturing environment and experienced teachers helped foreign students develop speaking, reading and writing skills to ensure their readiness. This year ELI included a brand new offering for students who are very intent on staying in the United States and attending school by further supporting them with additional services such as standardized testing, multi-level diagnostic assessments and academic consultations.
A unique aspect of ELI is that students had opportunities to interact with Harker’s regular summer program participants. This allowed them to make new friends and practice their English with native speakers.
Eight-year-old Ivy Zhao, from China, said she previously had attended Harker’s Camp+, but this was her first time participating in the ELI program. “I liked making new friends as well as seeing old ones that I had made before at Camp+,” she recalled.
Lucas Jia, a 9-year-old first-time ELI participant, also from China, said he enjoyed Harker so much that he wished he could attend the school year-round. “Here is very fun!” he said, noting that hanging out with his friends at the lower school pool was one of his favorite activities. He also enjoyed recess time on the playground, making friendship bracelets and playing games in the gym.
“We had a very motivated and excited group of young learners,” enthused longtime ELI lower school instructor Karen Glovka, who this summer taught students in grades 3-5. (During the regular school year, Glovka teaches Spanish to Harker students in grades 4-5.)
“They worked hard to use English as much as possible, and they loved the many activities offered to them. Our teachers were also motivated and excited, working with academic levels from kindergarten through fourth grade. The T.A.s were equally incredible, providing classroom academic support and working alongside camp staff during enrichment activities. I think we could call ELI ‘extreme, limitless, instruction’ (in English, of course!),” she reported.
New to the program last year was a weeklong “Very Interesting Places” (VIP) tour. This option, available to all ELI students, proved so successful that it was offered again this year at the conclusion of ELI’s regular five-week academic session. According to ELI director Anthony Wood, the VIP tour was born from widespread interest from ELI participants in having more excursions to enhance their American social and cultural experiences.
During the VIP trip, students followed a specialized course of study to continue developing reading, writing and speaking competency while visiting university campuses, Silicon Valley businesses, places of interest and treasured landmarks. The tour was capped off with an overnight trip to the scenic California coast.
ELI initially began as a year-round boarding school program and evolved into the current summer program, which launched in 2004. For the past few summers, ELI has steadily grown in attendance, especially in the primary division.
International students come to Harker accompanied by a parent or local guardian and stay in nearby apartments or with area family and friends. Each ELI session is kicked off by a welcome orientation, and at the end of each session students participate in a touching closing ceremony.
“We keep growing and enjoying each summer!” said Glovka.