Wednesday, March 07, 2007

International students frustrated by LEAP program??

I have been feeling a little down lately because of an article I read in the Gauntlet. I wonder how many of my students read the student paper here at the University of Calgary. When I was an undergraduate student, I read it every week. Anyway, just for fun the other day I picked up a copy to read while I was reading lunch, and right there on page 7 was an article about the LEAP program. However, this certainly wasn't the LEAP program that I know about. Basically the article was arguing that the LEAP program wasn't fair to international students because it was a waste of their time and money because they are not learning anything. Eeep. Students were also claiming that they were learning things in class that they were already familiar with. I guess they mean stuff like they had already studied how to do the present perfect tense, so why study it again?

Anyway, this is the online link to the article, but if you pick up a current issue of the Gauntlet, you can read the article there too. I wonder what my LEAP 4 students would think of this article. I really hope that now, because of the program, they are able to do things in March that they could not do in January. I guess that is the real measure of a program. If a student can say "now I can do this, but I couldn't do it before" that would be a way of demonstrating that they have learned something. Anyhow, I won't let this article get me down, but sometimes I do feel that I am faced with an almost impossible task compared with a normal professor at the university. It almost seems like if students fail in the LEAP program it's the teacher's fault for not teaching, but if they fail in normal university it's the learners fault for not learning. Complex stuff . . .


Tyler and Leah Kovacs said...

Too bad about the article, you know the truth though - I saw that you like the Wind up Bird Chronicle - I really got into Murakami when I lived in Japan - there is some great Japanese Literature out there - I want to get more of my friends into it.
Nice Blog!

Alif said...

I have read the article after reading the blog. I didn't feel bad; however, I think the writer isn't clear what he/she is talking about. This may be true for some people because I heard one Bangladeshi friend who left the course what we (I and one Bangladeshi studying LEAP) are reading for the LEAP course. Actually, he could not understand the objective of the course. If anyone couldn't understand the objective well, it is quite impossible for him to learn from the course. I think I have a lot to say. I will write about it in my blog.

Shannon said...

You're right. It's all very complex. Is there an assumption that these students are really not university students yet and, for that reason, need more help from their teachers? I think many students come from cultures where they are spoon fed. To go cold turkey would be a huge shock and one that they could not easily understand. The bridging aspect of EAP courses should not be underestimated. I think you are a wonderful teacher, Scott, and your students are lucky, lucky, lucky to have you. I'll tell Jennifer about Seattle.Thanks for turning me on to blogs.

Carlos said...


As you well know, it is impossible to accommodate the interests and wishes of everyone. Unsatisfied people exist anywhere and the article at the Gauntlet is partial and unfounded. There is a possibility that someone was not fair treated or someone could not be happy with his/her scores, but calling the LEAP program as a waste of time and money is an absurd. OK, the LEAP is an expensive program, in particular for international students. However, I challenge anyone to find other ESL program in Alberta with the infrastructure and qualified instructors that are possible to find here.
This is my second semester at the LEAP program and I am totally satisfied. I have learned more in these 6 or 7 months here than I had learned in 6 or 7 years of English courses.

Thanks for the LEAP program team.


anna said...

I totally agree with Carlos. Yulia.

Kevin.L said...

Hi Scott, I had read the article many times and I somehow agree few points form that article.. Yes, the writer may not clear about LEAP..but it also represent many students opinion who studying in the LEAP. after I read it, I cannot stop thinking about it. I had been studying in LEAP for 5 semesters. sometimes I feel uncomfortable about some instructors, but I did not complain about it because it's useless..btw..I think you are a great teacher, I really enjoy to attend your class and I also learned many things..thank you so much and don't feel down about that article ;)

EsTella said...

Don't be so upset, u r a great teacher and all of our student really enjoy your class!!Cheer up!

Happy Amy said...

Just forget the aritle!
We all know the truth. We do learn lots of useful information from Leap 4...
Like what u wrote,"It almost seems like if students fail in the LEAP program it's the teacher's fault for not teaching, but if they fail in normal university it's the learners fault for not learning."

There is a saying in Chian that failures always give external reasons and excuses to explain their failure. That's what makes them a real failure.

I remember that my teacher said to us that sitting in the classroom, spending the same time and being taught by the same teacher, why someone can pass the exam, why some not,,,,

Kenneth said...

I have taken several English Programs in Calgary. They included the courses in SAIT, Mount Royal College, Bow Valley College and U of C. I could share some of those experience here. First of all, It is definitely true that LEAP Program is the most expensive one. The point is, is it worth or not?

When I studied English in Mount Royal College, super memory was all that I needed to pass the program. We kept doing Grammar exercises everyday, but it seemed that Grammar was kind of separate from writing. In LEAP 4, I finally understand why I should use such and such tense or sentence structure instead of such and such else. It is really important because it affects your personal writing style (We should really move on from copying from existing style to creating our own unique style).

When I was in SAIT, I got tons of homework everyday and 2 or more quizs every week. It was really stressful. In LEAP 4, We do have certain amount of homework but I think the amount is just fine. (Sometimes we even get mercy extensions when our teachers realize that we are dying somehow - I AM NOT SURE WHETHER IT IS SUITABLE TO RAISE THIS ISSUE IN HERE :)

When i was in Bow Valley College, I had lots of freedom because they didn't care about whether you had finished your homework or not. As a lazy people like me, I wasted money in their English class and learnt nothing. I think the pressure in LEAP program is very high, in fact, it is a little bit too much sometimes. But look on the bright side, I believe that the official university program is going to be tough, so the sooner we get use to the stress, the better we are ready for the challenge.

In one word, LEAP program may not be suitable for everybody around the world. I believe that some people do enjoy this program. I think people have their own choices in getting what they really want and they should go somewhere that suit them the best. Thus, it is not nice to insult people who choose to take this program and enjoy themselves in it.

Btw, the point about the placement test in the article is quite weak. Everybody knows that we get an extra test to put us into different levels during the first week after the placement test. She can prove to the teacher that she can do better. In fact, I have got a real life example of it. One of my classmates has jumped from LEVEL 2 (by placement test) to LEVEL 4 now.

Sane said...

Forget the article man cuz ur the man ;)

Like Carlos said, to satisfy all ppl is something that is something that would never be satisfied.

Just keep on going.

Edward said...


The majority of your students have studied in differents English learning programs before attending the LEAP. The LEAP program is not only about mastering English proficiency, in fact, as it has been emphasized more than once since the very beginning of the course, Leap is a program looking for an accurate and effective academic English communication. I have had the opportunity to attend English programs with a wide variety of curricula and I can tell you with no doubts that the Leap program has been the most useful of all the programs from an academic point of you. Perhaps, people do not really realize and understand the role Leap and what it is made for. As Carlos wrote, it is very difficult to satisfy everyone’s wishes. However, what could be interesting to say to the person who wrote the article is if she considered more than just one student for her research because in my ignorance I believe an article with this kind of controversial content should take under consideration a generalized opinion. So I wonder, Is this a general opinion? apparently is not, isn't it?