Purdue Language and Cultural Exchange (PLaCE) Department of English

About PLaCE

PLaCE is a program designed to improve first-year international students' English language skills in order to help them take full advantage of the range of educational opportunities available at Purdue. After a two-year pilot program, the value of the PLaCE program was validated and it has become part of the core curriculum.

How do PLaCE Courses Work?

PLaCE's main English language program consists of a two-course sequence (ENGL 110 and ENGL 111, formerly GS 100/101). The sequence aims to help students develop effective strategies for communicating in the college classroom and beyond.

In PLaCE classes, learning about language and culture is process, where students are guided by experienced instructors through multiple cycles of experience, reflection, conceptualization and experimentation. Course learning outcomes include:

  • Speaking and reading English more fluently
  • Communicating in English with increased clarity when speaking and writing (including essays and presentations)
  • Understanding reasons and practices for using outside sources
  • Developing and applying a process for cross-cultural comparison and reflection

Students frequently collaborate with peers on activities and assignments that investigate different aspects of language and society, especially as they relate to university students in the early 21st century. To measure individual progress over the course of the semester, students also complete timed reading, writing and speaking assessments.

The ENGL 110/111 curriculum provides multicultural perspectives of the American university experience. Instructors guide students to become more self-aware and better able to see issues from different points of view. PLaCE classes encourage students to make connections between their own lived experiences and new academic and social contexts. This process allows students to engage with course material on a personal level, to think critically and creatively about content and language, and to offer up their own opinions, questions and possible solutions for topics directly connected to their experiences as international students at Purdue.

Why Do We Need PLaCE?

Too often, international students, especially those who enroll with lower spoken and written proficiency, develop strategies for avoiding communicative interactions in English, whether it be with their instructors or peers. As a result, they may graduate with respectable GPAs, but without developing advanced proficiency in English as a second language.

At least 80 percent of the students who responded to end-of-semester course surveys strongly agreed or agreed that after completing the course, they experienced:

  • Improved Abilities in English
    • giving presentations
    • reading efficiently
    • skimming and scanning
    • determining meaning from context
    • reading academic texts
    • reading newspaper articles
  • Greater Confidence
    • speaking in class
    • expressing opinions in and outside of class
    • participating in class discussions
    • speaking with classmates about homework and projects
    • speaking with first-language English speakers in general
    • speaking with professors, instructors and advisors
    • writing emails to professors, instructors and advisors
  • Less Difficulty
    • solving problems
    • succeeding in their other classes
    • connecting their personal experiences to academic topics
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