The Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) has developed a free program called “Beyond yoUrself in Learning English” (BUILD) that brings peers together to teach one another about their languages. A program like BUILD provides a great venue for international visitors who want to enhance their English skills while also including a social aspect.
BUILD began as a way for master’s degree students in MIIS’s Teaching Foreign Languages (TFL) and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programs to gain classroom teaching experience. At first, other MIIS students, faculty, and staff members who were interested in learning English and other languages signed up for BUILD classes. Many wanted to learn another language without going through a long series of prerequisite courses. Others knew two or three languages already and wanted some exposure to yet another language.
The BUILD model of teaching and learning can also benefit community members that are non-native English speakers. Foreign visitors who are interested in obtaining an American visa, for example, can attend BUILD classes to brush up on their spoken and written English. Also, international students who are interested in improving their English or in taking the TOEFL may also find that a program like BUILD is a great pathway to learning English.
In addition to attending low-key classes, students in a program like BUILD form online communities because instructors use social media and blogs for classroom announcements, to review previous lessons, or to post learning materials. Some instructors find it useful to post a link to a YouTube video that supports the last lesson.
The BUILD program continues to grow and currently offers free instruction in 15 languages. By offering more flexible instruction and by encouraging community, programs like BUILD can be both fun and effective.
Thanks to Teacher McKinley for the photo of a classroom.