Mott Community College is helping immigrants and international students learn English skills to pursue an American college degree or improve English for personal and professional reasons.

The courses are offered as part of the English Acquisition Program.  The courses, titled English for Academic Purposes (ELAP), are appropriate for intermediate and advanced non-native speakers.  “These courses are ideal for students who speak English as a second language,” said Debra Gibes, Assistant Professor of Reading and faculty Director for Experiential Learning. “They are designed for English language learners who want to improve their English language skills for college coursework, or those who struggle in their academic programs due to gaps in English language acquisition. Additionally, the course is a good fit for those who want to advance their English language skills beyond day-to-day English,” she said.

The course provides a comprehensive study of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in multiple college disciplines.  It also provides English language instruction for discourse in discipline-specific content, including health sciences, social science, natural science and business.

The first course, which was offered during the Winter 2018 semester, included 15 international and immigrant students, some who have been in the US for 20 years. “Many of the older students were ready to take their English skills to the next step to improve career opportunities.  Some already have degrees from their native country and want to engage in English conversation on a deeper level for better cultural acclimation,” Gibes said.

An international student who took the course, and is now pursuing a master’s degree at Western Michigan University, wanted to fill in gaps in her understanding of English in a variety of disciplines to improve her academic performance,” Gibes added. 

Students benefit from an integration of reading, writing, listening and speaking for English language acquisition and a curriculum specifically developed for English Language Learners (ELLs) taught by professional Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) instructors.

Additionally, Gibes supplements the course with activities such as the Culture & Language Exchange Partners (CLEP) initiative.  This pairs ELAP students with native English speakers studying a foreign language at MCC and members of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. “Our goal was to improve global awareness and understanding with our US born students while giving our ELAP students a cultural partner to learn from,” said Gibes.

Students also participate in conversation groups. The conversation groups met every other week, and included ELAP students, community members and students from other Flint-area college campuses, giving participants an opportunity to improve both English and foreign language skills.  

“It was unbelievably fulfilling to teach the class,” Gibes said of the experience. “It is such a great opportunity for immigrant populations seeking jobs, and for all non-native English speakers to enable them to better engage with their new culture through strong communication skills,” she added.

The ELAP course will be offered again in the Fall 2018 Semester. It counts as elective credits that are transferable nationally and internationally to colleges and universities with similar coursework.

For information on how to enroll in ELAP courses, contact the MCC Business and International Studies Division at 810-410-1050 or