Purdue Language and Cultural Exchange (PLaCE) Department of English

Frequently Asked Questions about PLaCE

What is PLaCE?

Purdue Language and Cultural Exchange (PLaCE) is a new instructional unit on the West Lafayette campus that supports international students who learned English as a second language and who will benefit from language and cultural support as they adjust to life at a U.S. university.

Purdue University benefits from the knowledge and talents of the many international students who have come from countries where English is not the native language. These people bring an essential cultural diversity to the campus and enrich our academic environment, but they need support in adapting to life and university study in a new country. PLaCE works with international students to ensure that they are able to integrate into the Purdue community, develop relationships with U.S. peers and engage in cross-cultural experiences that benefit everyone on campus.

What are the specific goals of PLaCE?

PLaCE provides a coherent instructional and assessment program to ensure that international students are able to develop the academic, linguistic, and cultural competencies they need to participate in university life and to compete for graduate school and employment opportunities.

At this time, the PLaCE program consists of two semester-long courses — ENGL 110 and ENGL 111 (formerly GS 100/GS 101) — that will examine college life, help students deal with culture shock, introduce the history and culture(s) within the American academy, address current social and environmental issues on campus, and encourage exploration of the Purdue community beyond the classroom.

What is the program's structure?

PLaCE offers two three-credit courses, ENGL 110 and ENGL 111: American Language and Culture for International Students I & II.

ENGL 110 and ENGL 111 are designed to develop international students' (1) second-language skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking, (2) confidence to more fully participate in university life, and (3) cross-cultural competence.

Two additional integral components, the PLaCE Language Partner Program (LPP) and the Assessment of College English-International (ACE-In), are unique to the Purdue educational context.

  • The Language Partner Program provides students from diverse backgrounds a structured way to engage in cultural integration activities (international students are paired with domestic students). To date, more than 1,000 students (approximately 40 percent international and 60 percent domestic) have participated in the LPP, and student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
  • ACE-In is a locally developed, Internet-based, semi-direct English language proficiency test. The test contains three modules, and all items within each module are timed to evaluate examinees' real-time abilities to comprehend, speak and write English. The information provided by the ACE-In is used to: (1) reliably identify English language learning needs of incoming international students, (2) establish sub-skill profiles, (3) provide a reliable and valid starting point to appropriate instructional interventions, (4) examine language development over time (pre-, post-testing), and (5) contribute to language program evaluation.

Short courses provide additional options for support in English language development and are open to all students. Short courses are six-week-long courses (shorter than a full semester). These classes are longer than a workshop and do not count toward your GPA or show up on your academic transcript. A variety of short course topics will be offered during both the first half and the second half of the spring semester.

PLaCE has developed several intensive English language courses for visiting faculty and students as part of Purdue’s broad-based partnerships with the country of Colombia. These courses target students' specific academic language needs so that they can optimally pursue opportunities for research and collaboration with faculty at Purdue.

How will students and the campus benefit from PLaCE's English language support classes?

  • PLaCE helps ensure that Purdue graduates academically, culturally and linguistically competent international students, more capable of competing for employment opportunities or graduate school.
  • International students with improved English language skills will be more prepared and willing to communicate with domestic peers, hence increasing meaningful interaction among students.
  • Faculty who have transformed their courses as part of IMPACT are especially concerned with the English language skills of international students. As their redesigned courses anticipate significant group work and interpersonal interaction, English conversational skills are increasingly important to the student-engaged classroom.
  • This program will provide a strong English language and cultural support structure to ensure that Purdue remains a desired U.S. destination for international students. This program will differentiate Purdue from many of our peers.

Who can enroll in PLaCE courses?

ENGL 110 and ENGL 111 are designed as foundational courses for incoming international students with qualifying TOEFL scores (TOEFL iBT Total < 101 or less than 7.5 on the IELTS). ENGL 100 and ENGL 111 may also be suitable for international students at any level who speak English as a second language and want to improve their core language skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and cultural knowledge.

All students are eligible for enrollment in the regular ENGL 110 and ENGL 111 classes as well as the short courses. Most incoming freshmen take the two-sequence course. Many graduate students opt to take ENGL 111. Students should consult with an advisor if they have questions about which course to take.

What are the biggest challenges that international students face in their first year of college?

International students, like their domestic counterparts, face many challenges their first year on campus: being away from home, succeeding in classes and making new friends. But, of course, for international students there are additional challenges associated with developing second language proficiency — speaking and studying in a second language and finding a way to be successful in a new culture. By providing English language support, we will do our best to ensure that first-year challenges don't ever become roadblocks for any incoming students. PLaCE is designed to address the unique challenges associated with being an international student.

What other resources exist in the community for English instruction?

Visit the Community ESL Resources page for more information at Purdue and in the Lafayette-West Lafayette community. Students may also wish to consider private tutoring. The Oral English Proficiency Program (OEPP) maintains a list of private tutors who offer ESL instruction for a fee.

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