International English Center students enrolling in CU-Boulder degree programs

December 17, 2012 •

The University of Colorado Boulder’s International English Center, or IEC, which provides English as a Second Language courses to international students, is experiencing record enrollment and more than 50 students have applied for admission to CU-Boulder undergraduate and graduate programs for spring 2013.

The IEC, part of CU-Boulder's Division of Continuing Education, is an intensive English program especially designed for non-native English speakers who are preparing to enter a college or university in the United States. The IEC offers a year-round program featuring five eight-week sessions of English instruction, combined with orientation to university customs, academic preparation, and an introduction to life in the United States. IEC instructors offer test preparation classes to help prepare non-native English-speaking students with their Test of English as a Foreign Language/International English Language Testing System admissions’ tests, and advisors help counsel students about how to apply to CU-Boulder.

There are 320 students enrolled in the IEC’s current session. At present, 15 IEC students have been accepted into CU-Boulder programs and will enroll in degree programs next semester.

As a young student, Badr Alsobhi remembers telling his teachers he aspired to become an English teacher. He has stayed connected with those early mentors and has remained true to his career goals.

“I like a challenge,” he said. “I think they (my teachers) are proud of me. It was my dream to become an English teacher. The second part of my dream was to go to the U.S.”

Alsobhi is an IEC student and he has been accepted into a bilingual/multicultural education graduate program in the CU-Boulder School of Education beginning next semester. He has a bachelor’s degree in education and hopes to enhance English education in his home country of Saudi Arabia. He attributes his success to his parents. His inspiration is to follow the words of linguist Stephen Krashen: “Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.”

In Alsobhi’s words: “I want to improve the curriculum for teaching English as a second language. When I was in high school the focus was on grammar, but grammar should come after you speak. Like a child, you listen, listen, listen and then learn to speak.”

The IEC model has been helpful for Alsobhi. He believes the program did more than teach academic English because it also offered social events and support to help individuals development conversational English skills.

“I chose CU-Boulder because it has a good reputation in English education,” he said. “There are a lot of resources for studying on campus.”

Alsobhi’s IEC classmate, Badriya Al Dhuhli, will also begin a CU-Boulder degree program in the spring as an undergraduate in chemical engineering. She considered similar English preparatory programs before choosing CU-Boulder.

“I prefer Boulder. It has a good education system and a good reputation,” she said. “The IEC offers various electives that help international students to get involved with the American community and acquire the language as well.”

Al Dhuhli has enjoyed learning about American culture, and she also enjoys opportunities to connect with locals and share information about her home and culture in Oman.

“As international students, we represent our countries. We let people know about our cultural values through our interactions with them,” she said. “Lots of people enjoy knowing about Oman and its culture.”

Pictured above is an IEC class including Badr Alsobhi, third from left, and Badriya Al Dhuhli, fifth from left. This piece originally appeared at