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ODU Unveils Changes to English-Language Proficiency Requirements

Old Dominion has introduced changes to the University's English-proficiency requirement for non-native English language learners that will take effect during the 2015-16 academic year.

In a letter to the University community, James Shaeffer, founding dean of Old Dominion's College of Continuing Education and Professional Development, said the changes were jointly designed by the English Language Center and the Office of International Admissions. They were reviewed by Provost Carol Simpson and Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for student engagement and enrollment services.

"The program changes will launch in the fall 2015 semester and will be jointly implemented by the English Language Center and the Office of International Admissions," Shaeffer wrote.

The ELC and the Office of International Admissions will host two information sessions for graduate program directors, advisors, and interested faculty.

Information sessions will be held at the following dates and times:

  • Friday, April 17 from 3:00 - 3:50 p.m. in Constant Hall 2003
  • Tuesday, April 21 from 12:30 - 1:15 p.m. in Constant Hall 2003

To join an information session, please RSVP to ELC@odu.edu with the date you would like to attend. For more information, contact David Silvis of the English Language Center (dsilvis@odu.edu; 757-683-5687) or Steven Risch of the Office of International Admissions (srisch@odu.edu; 757-683-3649).

Under the program changes, English language learners enrolled in the English Language Center's Intensive English Program (IEP) are able to satisfy the University's English proficiency requirement to enter the Monarch English Transition Program (formerly the Bridge Program) by successfully completing Level 5 of the IEP with a 'B' or higher, and receiving passing scores on level exit assessments that focus on language production. This method would be an alternative to presenting a score on an external standardized English proficiency test.

"With this alternative pathway in place, students will be able to focus on the language acquisition process and be better prepared for academic coursework," Shaeffer wrote.

The University will benefit in that skills-based assessments focused on language production will ensure that English language learners in ODU's IEP are ready for academic programs; Old Dominion will join peer institutions that have similar transition programs for English language learners in intensive English programs; the change will increase international applications to undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and the IEP; and the University will retain a greater number of currently enrolled English language learners in the IEP into its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Students will benefit from the focus placed on the language acquisition process in the classroom instead of on external standardized testing; and the program will emphasize the written and oral communication skills that English-language learners need to be successful in the U.S. higher education setting.

The Bridge Program is being renamed to the Monarch English Transition Program (MET). The Undergraduate MET Program combines eight contact hours per week of English as a second language coursework with six-to-eight academic credit hours. The Undergraduate MET Program is being shortened to one semester, with the new program allowing for additional emphasis on writing a research paper, applying critical thinking skills and learning American academic culture.

"These are skills that will result in incoming undergraduate international students that are better prepared to succeed in ODU's academic programs," Shaeffer wrote.

The Graduate MET Program is also being shortened to one semester. The Graduate MET Program combines eight contact hours per week of English as a second language coursework with three academic credit hours. The new program will allow for additional emphasis on participating in classroom discussions, delivering formal presentations, writing a research paper and learning American academic culture.

The writing course is being extended from three to four contact hours per week. Increased attention to oral and written communication skills will better prepare incoming international students to be successful in ODU graduate programs. The student learning outcomes are achievable in one semester.

Successfully completing the Undergraduate or Graduate MET Program satisfies the University's English proficiency requirement.

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