Werklund School of Education
Leading Education for a Connected World
By Betty Rice
For 15 years, international students coming to the University of Calgary have found a home away from home in the form of an English language program that focuses on preparing them for the rigors of post-secondary study while at the same time introducing them to both life in Canada and the cultural mosaic that makes up the country.
To date, some five thousand students, representing almost 40 countries and speaking more than two dozen languages have connected through the university’s International Foundations Program (IFP).
And as IFP celebrates this milestone, the program and its offerings are set to grow.
“Students come from around the world with a desire to study at the University of Calgary,” said Provost Dru Marshall, “and the International Foundations Program helps them achieve the English language proficiency needed for admission.”
Marshall made the comments at an event marking the anniversary, which included a colourful celebration of cultures represented by the students of the IFP. Tours were given of the new IFP offices and meeting rooms in the Education Tower, and guests were invited to share in international cuisine and a cake specially designed for the event.
IFP and the University’s International Strategy
When the University of Calgary launched its International Strategy, it was closely linked to the university’s Eyes High vision and Academic and Strategic Research Plans. Internationalization is a priority identified in the Academic Plan as essential to the attainment of the goal of becoming one of the top five research universities in Canada.
As part of the strategy, IFP has been given the mandate to develop cognate-area specific English language courses, to better prepare international students to learn in their undergraduate and graduate degree programs. New IFP courses are about to begin for students in the Schulich School of Engineering, with Faculty of Science courses to follow shortly.
But it’s more than that.
“The IFP program does much more than teach English,” said Marshall. “It teaches the skills needed to do research, how to write papers and do oral examinations, and how to excel at these and other academic tasks.”
“We want all IFP students to not only be academically successful, but to achieve success in all their endeavours,” explains Anuradha Sengupta, associate dean of IFP.
Sengupta continues, “Our continued focus is on student success and the creation of a positive and engaging student experience at the University of Calgary.”
A stepping stone to academic success
IFP graduate Kohei Tanaka is in the final year of his PhD studies, and he says the time he spent in IFP brought him to where he is today—on the verge of becoming a paleontologist. And while he says the IFP courses were challenging, he credits the instructors and staff with his success. “IFP provided great opportunities to connect my academic career between my undergraduate studies in Japan and my graduate programs in Calgary.”
“IFP is unique because the courses focus on practical academic English enabling international students to pursue their academic goals in Canada.”
“One of our core values in the Werklund School of Education is to embrace the diversity that arises in various ways individuals experience and express knowledge, actions and identities,” says Werklund Dean Dennis Sumara. “We actively strive for a participatory culture through collaboration, both internally and with our partners in education.”
“What better way to do this than through our focus on internationalization.”