Teaching Philosophy and Methods

The mission of the American Language Program is to prepare you to function effectively in English in a globalized world in your chosen academic, professional, and social settings. At our program, you will learn the conventions of the English language and American culture, and become aware of the differences between English and your own languages. You will become an autonomous, curious, confident, and self-motivated learner who has strategic competence appropriate to your language ability, interests, and goals.

You will be asked to engage actively with the language, with your teachers and the students in the class, with the Columbia University community, and with the riches of New York City around you. If you can be an active and curious student—one who is motivated to communicate and inquire—you will learn the language, learn about yourself, and truly benefit from the American Language Program experience.

Teaching and Learning Methods

In our program, you will experience a variety of teaching styles and methods. In the Intensive English Program, you will have two or three teachers who work closely together to create a varied and integrated curriculum. While some textbooks are assigned, you will often find yourself using web-based as well as teacher-made materials. These materials will represent a variety of genres and media: news reports and commentaries, academic readings and lectures, personal essays, plays and other literature, visual data, films and photos, songs, advertisements in all media, and so on.

In any given class, you will be an active participant in several activities connected by a theme. You will work with language in contexts that, depending on your level, may simulate daily-life situations, focus on American society and customs, or explore issues of worldwide concern. Coursework at all levels gets you to practice grammatical accuracy, fluency and pronunciation, vocabulary, listening and reading comprehensions, and writing. Some assignments require you to gather data outside of class, either through interviews, site visits, or the internet; others call for teamwork and cooperative learning. When you say something, the teacher is there to help you say it better—with more appropriate vocabulary, clearer pronunciation, and more precise meaning.

Class Size

In the Intensive English Program, your class will have 12-15 students. At lower levels, the classes may be even smaller.

The Language in Context

ALP faculty believe strongly in preparing students for the accurate and fluent use of English in academic and professional settings.

Instruction at the ALP involves intensive class participation and active use of the spoken and written language. Language is presented in contexts that, depending on the student’s command of English, may simulate daily-life situations, focus on American society and customs, or explore issues of worldwide concern. Course work at all levels is designed to develop grammatical accuracy, fluency and pronunciation, listening and reading comprehension, and writing ability.