Language program bridges gap
By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer
When new students need to shore up their English speaking and writing abilities, QBridge is there to help. Running each summer since 2010, QBridge is an intensive eight week language immersion program run by the Queen’s School of English.
In small classes, in which they have all pledged to speak only English, students listen to lectures, write essays, make presentations and take part in debates. By the program’s end, students are meant to be proficient enough in their academic and language skills to be able to succeed in their first year of university.
While the program largely recruits from China through the China Liaison Office, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will sometimes refer students to the program as well.
“We sometimes see applicants who are excellent candidates for Queen’s but need a little more work on their language skills. QBridge exists to help them prepare for their time at university,” says Janice McAlpine, Acting Director, Queen’s School of English. “We’ve had participants from China, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Japan and Panama, and we’ve found it makes for a better class dynamic when students speak different languages. There’s less temptation to speak one’s first language. When students stretch their abilities to communicate with one another, they really improve.”
Besides getting students ready for study, QBridge is also an important part of the university’s drive to internationalize.
“We can become a more international campus by accepting native English speakers from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and other English speaking countries, but to break outside of one tradition we need to attract students who are both bilingual and bicultural. They bring a different mindset and experiences that enrich the university for all of us,” Ms. McAlpine says.
QBridge can be a big help to students who need it. “When I applied to Queen’s I realized my level of English wasn’t good enough, and QBridge equipped me to succeed,” says Othmane Rtel Bennani (Sci’17), who came to study at Queen’s from Morocco. “The professors were amazing: they taught me all sorts of skills and made me improve greatly in short amount of time. I really wanted to come study at Queen’s and without the program, I would have missed out on coming to a great place. ”
You can hear more from QBridge participants on the Queen’s School of English blog.