IEC@OCC – Intensive English Program
COSTA MESA, California – English is one of the biggest obstacles anyone who wishes to come to America, especially for those who want to study abroad as they need to obtain a TOEFL or IELTS score. Therefore, Orange Coast College (OCC) in Costa Mesa has opened an Intensive English program for overseas students on campus called the International Education Center (IEC).
The program has just recently opened one year ago. Ms. Jennifer Garcia, the Academic Coordinator of IEC@OCC said, “Before, OCC did not offer an intensive English program. Now OCC has partnered with IEC to provide international students additional English language training.” Students who have not yet obtained a TOEFL or IELTS score can enroll at IEC, and then continue
their academic studies at OCC, or other college and universities in the United States. According to Ms. Garcia, the IEC program was first started at Diablo Valley College in Northern California in 2000. Since then, IEC has built a very strong reputation by offering high quality and academic ESL preparation courses. In the summer of 2016, IEC began a pilot program at Orange Coast College and then launched IEC@OCC in January of 2017. IEC has been a CEA (Commission on English Language Program Accreditation) accredited institution since December 2011. In 2017, the IEC@OCC received five-year accreditation.
Registering to study English at IEC is not difficult Ms. Kaori Nakama, the student advisor of IEC at OCC said that the program offers different levels with eight-week sessions for each level. Students who complete the first course will go on with the next one until they finish the program. Upon successful completion of the IEC@OCC program, students will enroll into OCC classes. Many will transfer to a four-year university. Mr. Nathan Jensen, Associate Dean of Global Engagement Center at OCC, said it is not difficult to enroll at IEC. Just go to www.iec-occ.edu and click “apply now” to register. After filling in your information, the school will check and contact you to help process the paperwork.
OCC will help students find accommodations when they come to the US; they can either rent a house or find local host families to
share with them. About tuition and other expenses, Ms. Gladys Calderon, OCC Program Facilitator and IEC Student Advisor, said the tuition fee for an eight-week session is $3200, the enrollment fee is $100, the school activities fee is $80, and
health insurance is $250 each session. However, discounts are given when students register for two or more 8-week sessions.
“IEC – the second home”
IEC welcomes students from different countries such as Vietnam, China, South Korea, Japan, Central and South America. IEC@OCC always tries to help students integrate into the new environment to overcome the confusion coming to a new country.
Besides studying, IEC also organizes a wide range of activities for students from many countries to interact and talk with each other to learn about their culture and improve their English. Teachers organize workshops and conversation partners so students can have a bonding time together and learn each other’s different cultures.
According to Ms. Kaori Nakama, a huge obstacle for overseas students is homesickness. Some of the other difficulties for the students are routine tasks such as shopping for basic items, or ordering food. Therefore, during the first week, IEC employees have always led new students to places like In-N-Out or Target to get them acquainted with the new life. Rei Kakihana, a Japanese student, said: “I have been in the US for only two months, and I feel very different from Japan. Americans
are much easier, not as difficult as Japanese people. I have not only learned English in the IEC program, but I also have learned a lot from other foreign students.” Duc Tran, a Vietnamese student, said: “I just arrived California for a month, so things are
still new to me. At first, I didn’t speak English because I was afraid that no one can understand me, but when I went to school, the teachers are very caring and they give me opportunities to learn and to practice speaking English every day. In addition, I get to know my classmates, and everyone is friendly. Therefore, I feel less homesick and have more fun. For me, IEC is like my second home,” Tran expressed.
Highest Quality Instructors at IEC
According to Ms. Jennifer Garcia, IEC instructors are highly-trained professionals. They have master degrees in TESOL or Linguistics, and have experience teaching English in overseas countries.
Mr. Mike Hein, an IEC teacher, said that the school would apply certain improvements in the program in which students will learn more grammar in reading, writing and listening. He said that university programs are very difficult, so the OCC wants to improve students’ grammar. Besides that, Mr. Hein said some of the changes also include entertainment activities, which
is useful for overseas students. He said the program has received a lot of positive feedback from students.
Ms. Garcia said the teachers have to prepare the lesson plans well before class. Teachers follow a set curriculum, but can approach the curriculum in their own way. Additionally, the selection of teachers is very strict. Teachers must interview twice, and then have to be thoroughly trained for the program. By the seventh week of the first semester, students will evaluate their teacher.
Studying abroad is an opportunity for students to interact with the American environment and culture, not just knowledge but also life experience. Beginning with IEC, English will no longer be a barrier! Students will be more confident, and they
will definitely have great experience!