Elaine Armstrong, Director of the Queen's School of English
Elaine Armstrong’s first exposure to the Queen’s School of English (QSoE) came in the summer of 1986 when she was taking an additional qualification at the Faculty of Education. She provided English-language tutoring for a student to fulfill a course requirement. She enjoyed the experience of assisting the eager and appreciative student, and the opportunity prepared her for teaching in the North where the students’ first language wasn’t English.
Ms Armstrong returned to QSoE as director in 2007, attracted by the chance to have a similar impact in an administrative role.
“As the director, I really like collaborating with other units at Queen’s and other universities to create programs that take away the language barrier to open wider opportunities for study and communication,” says Ms Armstrong (Artsci’85, MBA’12).
QSoE has experienced significant revitalization under Ms Armstrong’s leadership. She credits the instructors and administrative staff for contributing to the development and implementation of several initiatives that have raised QSoE’s profile.
Since 2008, international students don’t have to take an English language proficiency test if they are in high standing in the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program. She believes the EAP program better prepares international students for university than studying alone for the TOEFL exam.
Ms Armstrong also identifies QBridge – an intensive preparation program for students who have received conditional offers of acceptance from Queen’s – as a major accomplishment she helped move forward. She anticipates QBridge will continue to be an important resource for attracting international students as countries like Brazil and China send more students overseas for post-secondary education and training.
Ms Armstrong is looking to the future as much as celebrating the past as QSoE marks its 70th anniversary.
“We haven’t reached our potential; there’s a lot more we could do,” she says. “We want units at the university to be more aware of our resources and the support we can provide through our core programs and tailored offerings.”