CSULB international student panel speaks to students in the American Language Institute

The most common obstacle international students face at Cal State Long Beach is learning a new language. As they sit in class among students vigorously scribbling their notes down, many of them struggle with comprehending lectures.

The first International Student Success panel discussion took place in the College of Business Administration building on Wednesday to discuss such experiences. The event was put on by the American Language Institute, which is a program that consists of classes for preliminary English language skills. The event aimed to offer firsthand advice to students who are currently in the program.

“It’s great to see the international students who came today want to be successful in college,” said Zhongliang “Michael” Gai, one of the panelists and a philosophy major in his freshman year at CSULB. “They have a great sense of desire to learn and get advice from us today.”

The audience of approximately 80 students listened to the panel talk about their experiences in college after passing requirements that are a prerequisite to taking standard English-speaking classes. Courtney Stammler, program coordinator and advisor Courtney Stammler selected the panel of students who are in her ALI 145 and 150 classes.

“So many of these students express their nervousness and want to know what it’s going to be like at the university,” Stammler said.

The panelists shared advice about how to manage their time as well as their social life, and striking a balance between the two.

“It’s important to converse with many people to help with your confidence and speaking skills,” Gai said during the discussion. “It is very fun to talk to people from different backgrounds.”

After preliminary questions were answered, the floor opened for questions from the international students in attendance. Students asked about how the English Intensive Program classes have helped the panelists in their transition to regular classes.

“I really enjoyed the meeting because it was from students to students,” said Ishaq Azzouni, a mass communications major from Saudi Arabia about to enter grad school. “It was the first experience for me to hear how actual students are doing rather than hear from instructors on similar topics.”

While all of the panelists offered thorough advice to the group, Gai was eager to share what he has learned in his first two semesters at Long Beach.

“To me, the university is not about the degree,” Gai said. “My goal is to cultivate a life-long learning habit to help me accomplish my long term goals.”

The program has held student success workshops with topics ranging from as complex as how to culturally adapt to college to as simple as how to send an email. Stammler was happy with the success of this first discussion panel.

“I would love to offer it every year,” Stammler said. “The more opportunities the ALI students have to mix with the students on campus, the more prepared and confident they will be.”

The prospect of future panel discussions also involves cooperation with domestic students.

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