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American Language Institute Welcomes Fulbrights

The institute again was chosen to provide a training program for Fulbright Scholars across the world.

Since 1946, the Fulbright international educational exchange program has sent exceptional students around the world to study, teach, research and exchange ideas at leading universities and educational institutions, such as SDSU.

About the American Language Institute training program

SDSU’s American Language Institute (ALI) was selected for a third consecutive year to offer a three-week training program that introduces new international students to American culture, university standards and fair practices.

“The ALI program is designed to integrate students into our society, and help through the initial awkwardness of experiencing a new country, and culture,” said Barbara Bass, SDSU’s Fulbright Preacademic coordinator. “This year, the ALI will host 35 students from 25 different countries.”

Students who come to SDSU are housed together in an off-campus living arrangement, which helps them bond together and experience the U.S. — and San Diego specifically — as a group.  

“Students form incredible bonds in those three weeks, and they never forget their San Diego experience,” Bass said. “In fact, many return to our area to study, visit or even vacation with their families.”

The intensive ALI program incorporates morning sessions consisting of English language training in speaking, listening and writing. Afternoons are comprised of SDSU faculty lectures on traditional topics such as the U.S. economy, cultural diversity in the U.S., the role of the media in our country and other topics such as social media and web-related issues.

...in the end (these students) wind up learning much from one another and their cultural indoctrination, in addition to what they learn in the actual classroom.

“The goals of the ALI program are really two-fold,” said Joe Shapiro, dean of SDSU’s College of Extended Studies, which houses the ALI. “First, and foremost, the program is designed to provide participants with English language training and a classroom experience that provides a basic understanding of current U.S. societal values and social norms.

“The program is also meant to provide participants a real sense of what American life is really like, beyond the books and lectures they experience in the classroom, and beyond how the media in their home country may have portrayed life to be like in the United States,” he added.

While students spend a significant amount of structured time in the classroom, their San Diego experience also includes several field trips to Southern California iconic destinations, such as Disneyland, Sea World and the area’s famous beaches. Additionally, they are able to engage in a two-night stay with an American family, which allows them to experience the American lifestyle first-hand.

“These students are already quite accomplished in their home countries when they arrive at SDSU,” Bass said. “What they can share and exchange with one another is really amazing to witness, and in the end they wind up learning much from one another and their cultural indoctrination, in addition to what they learn in the actual classroom.”

Fulbright facts

One of the most prestigious award programs in the world, the Fulbright international educational exchange program encompasses 144 countries.

More than 310,000 students have participated in the program, which was originally created by J. William Fulbright, a U.S. senator from Arkansas.

More Fulbright alumni have won Nobel Prizes than those of any other academic program. Famous international Fulbright Scholars include:

  • Samuel L. Kountz
  • Thomas R. Pickering
  • John Lithgow
  • Hedwig Gorski
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali
  • Charles Kennedy
  • Renée Fleming
  • Joseph Heller
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