Local university program teaches language through art

MARQUETTE — Students from Aba Teachers University in China are at Northern Michigan University for an English Language Institute focused on art.

19 students have traveled across the world to spend two weeks in Marquette for a language art program. Northern Michigan University’s school of Art and Design is hosting the summer program built to teach Chinese students English, through art. Faculty from NMU’s school of Art and Design will teach a variety of programs designed to help the students learn the language.

“We have different art projects that we’re going to have them do like right now they’re practicing ceramics and learning a little bit more about that,” said ESL Instructor, Alex Conklin.

Other programs include product design, graphic design, and outdoor painting. Some of the instructions are translated and then they are reinforced in their English language classes held each morning before their art session. The students will also spend a part of everyday outside in the community enjoying activities like swimming and exploring Presque Isle.

“They’re learning a lot, being in this environment, being around others who speak English, and getting them out in the community, they’re going to learn a lot for sure. And we just try to back that up in class, try to give them a place to practice and feel comfortable and safe,” said Conklin.

The goal of the program is the not only improve the student’s English language skills but also expose them to a different part of the world.

“I think anytime the students travel to another country, and have a cultural emersion in a different culture, it expands their view of the world so it’s very important for students to do that,” said Associate Dean and Director of the School of Art and Design, Daric Christian.

The hope out of the program is further exchange. Faculty members and students hope to continue to grow the relationship between the universities.

“Myself and professor Keith Ellis, we taught classes in May at their university in Sichuan, and we have two faculty members from their university coming to teach traditional Chinese painting in October. And eventually we hope that our students can go to a similar program in the summer to their university,” said Christian.

All the lessons will be held in the Art and Design Building on Northern Michigan University’s campus.
The program started July 10th at 1 P.M. and will go through July 20th.