These Brandeis students and staff members are all talk

For almost two decades, the Brandeis English Language Learning Initiative has created bonds between students and staff members

yellow logo of the Brandeis English Language Learning Initiative

We're lucky at Brandeis to be surrounded by so many wonderful staff members who play an integral role in our lives as students. They are the faces we see daily, and countless students have formed meaningful connections with staffers during their time on campus. The English Language Learning Initiative (ELLI) is one of the many ways students and staff members have further fostered these relationships.

ELLI started in 2001 as a program for students to offer English tutoring to dining hall employees. The program has since expanded is now offered to all Brandeis staff, with more than 30 campus workers getting matched with student tutors. After being matched based on schedule availability, all student participants get a prep course in tutoring strategies and English language learning material.

All students, regardless of whether they have had teaching experience, can join ELLI.

Jordan Loranger '19 with sitting at a table in Sherman with staff member Ling Sze, who she tutors in English
Photos: Yvette Cho

Photo/Yvette Cho Jordan Loranger '20 (left) and Ling Sze before their weekly Wednesday tutoring session.

After hearing about ELLI during the activities fair at her first-year orientation, Jordan Loranger '20 applied to be a tutor and has been hooked ever since. Although she had prior experience in tutoring, the opportunity to work with staff members offered her a unique way to connect with members of the campus community who aren't students. Jordan’s tutee, Ling Sze, has been involved with ELLI for a few years and has enjoyed every moment of building her language skills and friendship with Jordan.

“I joined because I never really heard of anything like it,” explained Jordan, now an ELLI coordinator. “It’s a great way to give back to the Brandeis community in a way that not many people initially think about.”

“I enjoy having Jordan as my tutor. Her teaching style works well for me and I learn so much from her,” said Ling, who works as the cashier at upper Usdan.

Through their weekly sessions, which range from engaging conversations about their days to completing the occasional grammar worksheet, Jordan and Ling have appreciated the year they've spent together through ELLI. Although Jordan is off to China on a Fulbright fellowship next semester, her tutoring sessions with Ling will remain a memorable part of her Brandeis experience.

Caylee Forschner '20, with staff member Yen Yu

Caylee Forschner '20 (left) and Yen Yu after their Monday tutoring session.

While Jordan heads off to her next adventure, Caylee Forschner '20 has returned from a fall semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and just recently reunited with her tutee of two and a-half years, Yen Yu, who works at Peet's Coffee in the Shapiro Science Center.

“Everyone on campus seems to know who Yen is. She’s just the friendliest face at Brandeis,” Caylee told me. “We just happened to get paired up and she is such a special person. Even when I have so much going, on I get excited to take the time to see Yen.”

Having been a part of ELLI for longer than she can remember, Yen actively participates twice a week with her tutors. Through working with Brandeis students, she has developed language skills that benefit her on a daily basis.

“I’ve improved a lot on writing, conversation, and reading skills," Yen added. "Everything we have done has given me more confidence than ever before."

With a passion for giving back, Caylee was looking to join a service-oriented club her first year at Brandeis. She was drawn to ELLI since it offered an opportunity for her to connect with staff.

“Our club isn’t about tutoring as much as it’s about fostering relationships. Taking the time to do what we can to help out and get to know the staff on a more meaningful level is what ELLI is about,” she explained.

These experiences are just a few  of the many stories about how impactful ELLI has been for the Brandeis community. Students who want to learn more or get involved can sign up for the club listserv on the Brandeis club page.

Categories: Student Life

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