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May 27, 2018

Classes give English for Academic Purpose students a chance to soar

Left: Jin Joo Hwang; Right: Takhmina Mussayeva

What is English for Academic Purposes (EAP)? Perhaps it’s easiest to explain by showing the results: Jin Joo Hwang and Takhmina Mussayeva.

These two young women are students at Johnson County Community College. English was not their first language, yet Jin Joo is treasurer of Student Senate and Takhmina (“Mina”) is secretary.

That means Jin Joo gives reports on finances, and Mina writes the meeting minutes. They’re tough jobs even for native speakers, but they found confidence in English for Academic Purposes.

By concentrating on key concepts for nonnative speakers who already know some English, EAP can prepare students for college.

Learn English for college classes

Holly Milkowart, Professor and Chair for ESL/EAP, often explains EAP is not English as a Second Language.

“The College has a great ESL program, but that’s for students who need to learn English,” she said. “The students in EAP already know English, already have studied it, but they need to improve their English skills enough to be academically able to participate in ‘regular’ college classes such as biology or composition.”

EAP offers classes in these areas:

  • Writing and grammar
  • Speaking and pronunciation
  • Reading and vocabulary

Depending on their test scores, students are placed into one of four levels, then work their way through Level 4 so they can leave EAP altogether.

Starting at the right level

When Jin Joo came to the United States from South Korea, she felt her English was strong. She spent a year in the Kansas City area when she was 10 years old, and she had studied English every year from kindergarten onward.

Mina, on the other hand, studied English only for a few years in her native Kazakhstan. She graduated from a college in Kazakhstan and then studied English intensely when she knew she wanted to come to the United States.

“But even then, I was learning British English, not American English,” she said. “So, for example, I didn’t learn ‘pants.’ I learned to say ‘trousers.’ Who in America says ‘trousers’?” she laughed. Jin Joo joined in. “Exactly. That happened to me, too.”

EAP builds a community

EAP classes not only helped them with “Americanisms” and slang but also created an environment where it was OK to try and fail and try again.

“No one was going to judge us,” Mina explained. “Even the professors were so helpful ... I had to record a video for my EAP class, and I must have redone it five times. Taking notes was the hardest thing for me. I told myself, ‘I believe in myself. I am just going to do it.’”

Now she takes notes at those weekly Student Senate meetings. Jin Joo, who used to avoid talking to other students because she “didn’t want to see their disappointed face when I didn’t understand,” now speaks up in meetings and classes.

“EAP classes helped me a lot,” she said.

Your next steps

For questions about English for Academic Purposes, contact Milkowart at 913-469-8500, ext. 3610. For classes, use “EAP” in the class search.

Interested in the Student Senate or other clubs and activities on campus? Contact Anne Turney, Manager of Student Life and Leadership Development, at 913-469-8500, ext. 3534.