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English Language Institute library helps international students improve reading skills

June 20, 2017

Lending libraryFiction, non-fiction or poetry? International students in the English Language Institute’s (ELI) extensive reading course have options to assist them in improving their language skills.

For the supplementary reading component of class, they are picking what they want to read during weekly visits to the ELI’s Lending Library, a collection in 44 Manoogian Hall that includes a wide array of titles and subject matter arranged according to reading levels.

“Rather than us assigning them a book, they have a choice in meeting this class requirement of reading three books over the semester,” says Christi Laginess, ELI testing coordinator and lecturer.

Students make their selections based on a personal Lexile Measure, a numeric index that combines the reader’s skill level with the readability and complexity of text, and is determined at the start of the course.

During their first library visit, students pick a book that appeals to them (a recent group of students were drawn to books on natural disasters) and also matches their skill level. On subsequent visits, they are encouraged to challenge themselves by choosing a book a little above that range. 

The library, a relatively new addition to the program, occupies a formerly unused room that has been transformed with comfortable seating, a fresh coat of paint and a wall of bookshelves, filled in part with donations acquired during a campuswide book collection last spring.

To best serve students with beginning level English language skills, Laginess says the library offers books up to 200 pages long with simple story lines. Students even sign a library use agreement that includes fines for books not returned on time.

ELI, a division of the Office for International Programs (OIP), is an intensive learning program preparing non-native English speakers for academic, professional and social success since 1940 through a variety of short- and long-term courses.

OIP leads Wayne State’s global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university’s global agenda.