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F&M Launches the American Liberal Arts Classroom

Franklin & Marshall College is launching a distinctive English-language immersion program for international students from highly-regarded international institutions.

The American Liberal Arts Classroom (ALAC) is an in-person, English-learning program for cohorts of 15 to 30 students. These students will spend seven weeks on F&M's campus to enhance their English proficiency in a liberal arts setting. The initiative aligns with both the College's strong liberal arts tradition and strategic plan, emphasizing experiential teaching and learning, internationalization and student engagement.

Participants will be second- or third-year students enrolled at other international higher education institutions who wish to improve their English speaking skills and learn more about the liberal arts model of education. Students will pay a fee that covers the cost of teaching and room and board.

The program is slated to begin in August 2023.

"F&M understands the challenges and opportunities that international students face in their transition from the home where they grew up to the home where they attend college," said President Barbara Altmann. "The American Liberal Arts Classroom initiative aligns with our commitment to global citizenship and our recently launched strategic plan, which seeks to bolster F&M's global identity and cultural fluency through enhanced diversity, better connections within the community, and expanded opportunities for study abroad."

Six times an academic year, an ALAC cohort will reside at the College. The program will be separate from F&M's curriculum and will be taught by English Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) specialists. The impact on services for F&M students will be minimal.

A Uniquely American Liberal Arts Experience

"During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learned how best to help international students transition to F&M from abroad. ALAC will build upon those experiences to share the uniquely American liberal arts experience with students while they learn English," said Sue Mennicke, associate dean for international programs.

While ALAC students will not be degree-seeking students, these small cohorts will live and learn alongside traditional students. Students will spend close to 25 hours a week in the classroom with additional language lab time, while also experiencing several uniquely American opportunities and trips on weekends.

"Franklin & Marshall enjoys a very strong academic reputation across the world," said Jimmie Foster, Jr., vice president for enrollment management. "The launching of the American Liberal Arts Classroom will allow us to leverage that recognition and offer a signature F&M experience to some of the most talented international students. Many of these students may use ALAC to improve their English and test-drive a U.S. education before considering it as a destination for graduate school."

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