This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 Harker Quarterly.
Harker’s English Language Institute (ELI), known internationally for its top-level English instruction, ran from late June to August, bringing together students from China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Turkey, and providing them with English skills they will be using at American boarding schools and English-speaking international schools.
As in previous years, ELI offered the customized scheduling that has become a hallmark of the program, placing students in specialized environments that helped them strengthen specific areas of their English proficiency. Students also had the option of enrolling in a special prep program for students looking to apply to boarding schools.
Areas of study offered by ELI included vocabulary building, study skills, reading comprehension, grammar, writing and composition, and oral presentation. Students also enjoyed after-class activities such as games, sports and swimming.
Anthony Wood, the director of ELI and a lower school assistant athletic director during the school year, said that Harker’s worldwide reputation as a top-tier school also helps to set ELI apart. “Personally, I think the prestige of the school ensures that most students come with the highest degree of self- efficacy and passion to learn,” he said. “We also value ourselves on our long history of success in teaching English as a second language. Remember, Harker had a boarding school for over 20 years, and this lineage has helped shape the program’s philosophy and curriculum in foreign language learning.”
The program added new teachers this year to “provide added professionalism and expertise to our faculty,” said Wood. ELI also hired college students interested in the teaching profession to further bolster its roster of instructors. The new staff members supported the students both inside and outside the classroom. The ELI curriculum was also redesigned to make sure it matched proficiency levels and maximized its effectiveness.
In addition to their English instruction, students also sampled several quintessential Bay Area experiences, including visits to the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium, the San Jose Tech Museum and an Oakland A’s baseball game.
Connie Yang, a student from Shanghai who was born in San Francisco, is planning to attend high school in the U.S., and enjoyed the ELI program because its teachers made the classes “fun and interesting.”
Another student from China, Christine Guo of Shenzhen, attends Santa Clara’s Sierra School and enjoyed the Harker campus environment. “There’s a swimming pool, a big field and it’s clean,” she said. She also appreciated the flexibility offered by the program, recalling how easily she was able to request a transfer from the intermediate to advanced class, which she enjoyed more due to the challenge it offered. “I still need to improve my English, even though I’m in a regular high school now, so I think this program will help me,” she said.