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CLE students practice language skills through volunteerism

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Center for Language Education (CLE) students visit with senior citizens at the Lumpkin County Government Senior Center. The CLE students practice their English-speaking skills and learn more about the American culture by talking with the seniors.

Almost every other Friday, between six and nine students in the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Center for Language Education (CLE) trek to the Lumpkin County Government Senior Center to visit with area residents.

First, the CLE students, most of whom are from China, share stories about Chinese culture, art and traditions. Second, they practice their English-speaking skills. And third, they learn more about the American culture by talking with the seniors.

Dr. James Badger, professor in UNG’s College of Education and director of the CLE, said these are some of the goals of the Intensive English Program (IEP), which improves English-communication skills and cultural understanding for international students seeking admission to UNG or another American university.

"We wanted to provide our international students with wide educational opportunities and cultural immersion outside of the classroom," he said, explaining students also visit places such as the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta and volunteer in events such as the Bear on the Square and Gold Rush festivals in Dahlonega. "They learn more about American culture, use their language skills and see different facets of American life."

The students also learn about volunteerism, especially through their visits to the TLC Humane Society in Dahlonega. Badger said the students help to socialize the dogs and cats and look forward to the regular visits.

"The students have a lot of fun during these visits," Badger said. "It is important for them to connect and interact with community members."

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