Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swing Dance Lessons

On Thursday, December 2, members of the Loyola community gathered for swing dance lessons taught by the LIEP students of the New Orleans Culture Class. We began with the basic swing dance step sequence, upon which all other movements are based. For men, this is a long step to the left, a long step to the right, quick step to left, quick step to right. Women begin on the right and do the same sequence of steps, mirroring the men.

Below, James Zhang and Kevin Li show a chart they have prepared to illustrate the steps.

James also illustrates the sequence of steps with gestures.

Then, James demonstrates the step sequence as learners watch.

After the demonstration, we engage in some slow individual practice. Below, Shelly Zhang works with John Ellison on the step sequence.

Finally, we form lines, couples join hands, and all begin to dance!

Below are some especially attractive swing dance movements.

Near the end, Jack Suzuki and Jonathan Lam catch their breath by enjoying a snack and soft drink.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! We look forward to reporting again in January on our Spring Semester 2011!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Telephone Interview with Author Frank Schaeffer

A highlight of the semester for our Advanced LIEP Reading & Writing class was an interview by speaker-phone with author Frank Schaeffer on December 1.

The class had read Frank Schaeffer's novel Baby Jack, about a young man named Jack Ogden from an upper-class family who enlists in the Marine Corps right after high school against the objection of his parents. Baby Jack deals with thought-provoking themes of life, death, war, loss, grief, family, social class, coming of age, service, God, and love. It provides rich material for discussion and writing. It also draws upon the author's life experience: like the fictional Jack Ogden, Frank Schaeffer's own son surprised his upper-class family by enlisting in the Marine Corps right after high school.

Frank Schaeffer is a gracious and friendly author who enjoys interacting with his readers. During our speaker-phone interview, Frank spoke openly about his experience, his thoughts, and his writing.
  • WRITING FROM LIFE. Frank helped us to see how an author uses his or her own experience to create a work of fiction. While the fictional story of the Ogden family is very different from the true story of the Schaeffer family, the seed idea for Baby Jack comes from Frank Schaeffer's life.
  • BEING OPEN TO CHANGE. Like many members of the upper class, Frank initially believed that the military was not a good enough choice for his son. But when Frank saw his son's tremendous growth in maturity and the Marines' depth of love and sacrifice, he did not cling to his original opinion but had the humility to change his mind. "Because of my son's service in the Marine Corps, I changed my opinion about the military," Frank said.
  • SERVING ONE'S COUNTRY. Frank drew a sharp distinction between serving one's country in the military and agreeing with the politics behind a particular war. To help us understand this, Frank used an analogy: a police officer will rescue a person trapped under a wrecked automobile whether the trapped person is an upstanding citizen or a hardened criminal. Frank also emphasized the importance of living a life of service in any walk of life.
  • BELIEVING WITHOUT CERTAINTY. Because God appears as a character in Baby Jack, we were interested in Frank's religious beliefs. Frank told us that he had created the character of God in a certain way for his novel and that he does believe in God. But he stressed, "I don't know what God is like." Frank explained that he had grown up in an evangelical Christian missionary family with very definite ideas about God but that he now prefers to practice his faith in the Greek Orthodox Church, which emphasizes the mystery of God. 
Our class awaits the moment for our telephone interview with Frank
Jane Nguyen of Vietnam asks Frank a question
Mariel Colon and Amalec Perez, both of Puerto Rico,  review their questions for Frank
Jinhee Lee of Korea listens intently to Frank
LIEP instructor Karen Greenstone listens closely to Frank
It was exciting for us to talk with the author of a novel we had read and to learn about the experience and thinking behind the novel. Thank you, Frank Schaeffer, for talking so openly with us about your life and your writing.

Our next post will feature the exciting swing dance lessons taught by LIEP students to other members of the Loyola community.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Class Observation Project - Fall 2010

The Class Observation Project is one of numerous opportunities for our Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) students to use their English in a real-life situation. We cancel our intensive English classes for two days so that our LIEP students may observe classes at Loyola University New Orleans. Many aspire to matriculate at Loyola or another university in the United States, and  this project gives them a glimpse into the life of a U.S. university classroom. It also gives them a realistic appraisal of their English skills. Especially important is the welcome they receive from the professors and other students, as this draws our LIEP students yet more fully into the larger Loyola community.

This semester we held our Class Observation Project on Thursday, November 18, and Friday, November 19. Besides observing Loyola classes, the LIEP students produced written and oral reports on their experience. Four of our intermediate LIEP students from China would like to share excerpts from their written reports with you.

* * *


On Thursday, November 18, I observed Introduction to Physics taught by Dr. Martin P. McHugh. I really disliked physics before I observed this class. However, after I observed this class, I changed my mind. I think physics is a very good subject for our daily life. It relates with our earth, such as the greenhouse effect and global warming. I also learned new knowledge about quantum physics.

Dr. McHugh taught us about the greenhouse and global warming with questions. For example, ice in the Antarctic is . . . ? The answer is "melting," confirming global warming predictions.

After a quiz, Dr. McHugh taught us about the atom. I felt confused, but Dr. McHugh showed PowerPoint pictures to explain. Those pictures made us understand the difficult knowledge, such as the nuclear model of the atom.

I especially enjoyed this class, and I changed my mind about physics. I enjoyed learning about a new topic. I thank Dr. McHugh because he made me not be afraid of physics.

* * *


On Thursday, November 18, I observed Chemistry in Art taught by Dr. Kathleen T. Crago and her son Dr. Edouard Louis Crago. The topic of the class was chemical interactions that can be used in art. I did the experiments with the professors and classmates.

The first experiment was to imprint a pattern onto a sheet of copper. I put a sheet of copper into a liquid solution for one minute. Then, I put it into a cup of water for thirty seconds. Hydro wax covered the copper sheet. Next, I drew a pattern on the sheet of copper with a needle. After this, I repeated the first two steps and then put the copper sheet into another liquid solution. After thirty minutes, I removed the copper sheet, stripped away the hydro wax, and washed the copper sheet. The experiment was successful. My pattern was on the copper sheet.

The second experiment was to change the color of aluminum strips to make them beautiful and use them in art. Dr. Edouard Crago put an aluminum strip into a liquid solution. He changed the temperature of the liquid, and the aluminum strip became blue. We can change aluminum to many colors by changing the temperature.

I was interested in the experiments, and I learned a lot easily in this class. We can make beautiful things in the Chemistry in Art class.

* * *


On Thursday, November 18, I observed Business Communication taught by Dr. Frankie J. Weinberg. On that day, the professor didn't teach. Instead, the students presented the websites they had created to introduce themselves to the class.

The first student's website looked classical. He had put some pictures about himself wearing a suit and shaking hands with people. He said that he likes boxing and watches all the boxing matches. His website showed a video of himself boxing. He also shared experiences about his first job and about how to study.

Other students presented their websites. But one student's website was different. This student used hip-hop style to present his website. The student sang a song about himself. It was so cool. The professor was so surprised. I liked it because this student created something different, not like the other students' websites.

After class, the professor was friendly and helpful. He chatted with me and welcomed me to join his class. This gave me good memories.

* * *


On Friday, November 19, I observed History of Western Art Music taught by Dr. Valerie W. Goertzen. I arrived early and introduced myself to the professor. Realizing that I am Chinese, Dr. Goertzen told me that in her childhood she studied at a U.S. American primary school in Taiwan.

The professor talked about opera in western art. Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and a musical score. Opera is part of the western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many elements of spoken theater, such as acting, scenery, and costumes, and it sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. It is popular in western culture.

I like this class because in my country we did not study music in school. At Loyola, you can study pretty music.

* * *

Our next post will describe the advanced LIEP students' reading of the novel Baby Jack by Frank Schaeffer and their telephone interview with the author.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Philo Café

This semester our advanced LIEP students have a wonderful opportunity to carry our class discussions into the wider forum of a monthly Philo Café, or Philosophy Café. At a Philo Café, people gather to discuss a philosophical question informally over coffee or tea.

The Philo Café at Loyola is facilitated by Dr. David O'Donaghue and co-sponsored by the Loyola Intensive English Program, by Loyola's Philosophy Department, and by the New Orleans Lyceum, a center for participatory adult education of which David is founder and director. As part of his Lyceum offerings, David -- a philosopher, psychologist, and artist -- facilitates Philo Cafés in various coffeehouses of New Orleans. 
“The Philo Café is a way of helping people realize that they’re thinking philosophically about a lot of things without realizing it,” David says. “It brings philosophy out of the academy and makes us aware that we are all philosophers.”

The questions for the Philo Café at Loyola come from the material in the Advanced LIEP Writing & Reading class. LIEP students become familiar with a topic by reading, writing, and talking about it in class; they then discuss that topic with native speakers of English in a Philo Café. These are the questions we have been working with in the Philo Café this semester.
  • OCTOBER—RIGHTS AND EQUALITY. Are there basic rights that all humans possess? If so, what are these rights? From whence do they spring?
  • NOVEMBER—SERVICE. What is service? What motivates us to service? Is there a dark side, or negative aspect, to service?
  • DECEMBER—CONSCIENCE AND CHOICE. What is conscience? What do we do when our conscience says one thing and the law says another?
The Philo Café at Loyola is attended by LIEP students, Loyola’s Philosophy Club members, other interested members of the Loyola community, and interested New Orleanians. For LIEP students, the Philo Café is an opportunity to discuss a familiar topic in a real-life situation with native speakers of English. As David O’Donaghue puts it, “Our challenge is to help the international students go beyond the specific and concrete and to articulate abstract ideas.” For others in the Loyola and New Orleans communities, it is an opportunity to exchange ideas with people from different cultures.

The Philo Café at Loyola is a rich exchange among people of very different ages and backgrounds. Our facilitator, David O'Donaghue, especially enjoys hearing the perspective of Loyola students. “The Loyola students are delightful,” he says. “They give me hope that the world is going to be in good hands with this next generation.”

Our next post will describe our Class Observation Project, where LIEP students spend two days observing Loyola University classes.

Photo Credit: Photos by Wadner Pierre
You can find more of Wadner's work on his photo website at or on his blog at 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advanced LIEP Students Prepare for Graduate Studies

We are proud of our three advanced students in the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) who are preparing for graduate study. Let us introduce you to Sasha, Shuichi, and Hui.

SASHA PRYGONIUK from Ukraine - Law

Sasha Prygoniuk practiced corporate law and family law in Ukraine. When she married a U.S. American and moved to the United States, she thought that she would have to set aside her law career. But then she discovered that Louisiana gives foreign lawyers the opportunity to obtain the LLM degree, to take and pass the bar, and then to practice law.

“I like to make a difference,” says Sasha. “Even in the United States, I see injustice that needs to be corrected. I like to read and study law and to know what we can and cannot do. Sometimes people don’t realize what they can do in a particular situation, and I like to help them by showing them what is possible, by giving them a chance.”

Sasha will begin her study for the LLM in spring 2011 in the College of Law at Loyola University New Orleans. Eventually, she would like to open her own law practice and to work with U.S. Americans seeking to adopt children, especially from Russia. “Adoption is a complicated process,” Sasha says. “I can help by knowing not only the law but also the language and culture.”

Sasha feels that her LIEP classes are preparing her well for her law studies. She especially appreciates the clear explanations of English language structure. “Now I understand how English grammar works,” she says. Sasha also enjoys the variety in class: explanations, exercises, films, field trips, presentations, interviews. “The different kinds of activities keep me interested,” she says. “And,” Sasha adds, “the price is good.”

SHUICHI SUZUKI from Japan – Public Health

Shuichi Suzuki worked as a pharmacist in Japan. “I was sick as a child, and my mother was also sick, so for me, medicine is very important,” says Shuichi. Shuichi enjoys working directly with patients. He is especially drawn to helping people suffering from diseases in developing countries.

In spring 2011, Shuichi will enter the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University to study for a masters degree in public health. This will allow him to combine his love for medicine, for international work, and especially for direct work with patients.

Shuichi finds that the rigor and discipline of studying at LIEP is good practice for graduate school. “It’s been a while since I was a student,” he says, “and LIEP is helping me get accustomed to so much study again.” Shuichi is also pleased with the improvement in his writing and speaking. “My writing skill is dramatically improving,” he says, “and I am improving my pronunciation and speaking fluency.”

Shuichi especially appreciates the independent study class that he and his LIEP instructors have created to correspond to his special needs and interests. For his independent study, Shuichi is observing an international business class at Loyola and exploring how principles of business and culture can be applied to the field of public health.

Finally, Shuichi is delighted with the opportunity to make U.S. American friends. “Many Loyola students are interested in international students,” Shuichi says. “My tutor is becoming a friend, and students in the international business class often speak with me.”

HUI ZHANG from China – Business

Hui Zhang is planning to study for an MBA degree in the College of Business at Loyola University New Orleans. Hui has a variety of business interests, among them marketing problems, finance, and hospital administration. She is also attracted to teaching. Hui has a three-year-old son and believes that teaching is an excellent career for a mother. Hui’s own mother has been a kindergarten teacher in China for over thirty-five years. Hui would also like to study abroad in South America and Europe, and Loyola’s College of Business offers that opportunity.

Hui believes that LIEP is providing solid preparation for her graduate business studies. “I have improved my writing skill and my presentation skill,” she says.

Hui also appreciates the reading material about contemporary issues in her LIEP class.  Of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Hui says, “This book changed my ideas. I knew that women had many problems, but the personal stories in the book made these problems so real.” Hui also responds to the themes of love and sacrifice in the military novel Baby Jack by Frank Schaeffer.  She says, “This book expresses deep love from the very bottom of the heart.” 

Our next post will introduce you to our monthly Philo Cafe, or Philosophy Cafe, where LIEP students come together with other members of the Loyola and New Orleans communities for an intercultural exchange on a philosophical question.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

LIEP Faculty Member Jess Haley and the New Orleans Culture Class

Jess Haley teaches our New Orleans Culture Class. “The New Orleans Culture Class is great for me because I am also a transplant,” Jess says. “What our students need to learn and understand about New Orleans is what I also need to learn and understand.”
Jess has come to the Loyola Intensive English Program from the University of Mississippi, where she worked as an archeologist. Her love for linguistics, cultural anthropology, and teaching led her to the field of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Jess holds Masters degrees in both anthropology and TESOL.

Jess believes that the cultural context of language is as important as the structure of language. “It is important to learn not only the language structures but also what you can do with language,” she says. “I encourage students to be creative and relevant with how they learn English.”

Jess describes New Orleans as “daunting, colorful, crazy, and exotic.” To help students make sense of the city, Jess first teaches vocabulary, history, and traditions, using lectures, exercises, and class discussions. “But,” she says, “it’s one thing to talk and another to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.” So the Culture Class continues with experiences beyond the classroom walls.

  • The students learn about Cajun cooking . . . and then the class cooks and eats a flavorful jambalaya.
  • The students learn about Halloween . . . and then the class throws a Halloween party with candy, masks, and the thriller dance.
  • The students learn about the French Quarter . . . and then the class rides the streetcar to the French Quarter, where they use maps and their skill in asking directions to find their favorite spots.
  • The students learn about styles of New Orleans music . . . and then the class sings and dances. In fact, the Culture Class is in the process of preparing a dance hour when they will teach dances to Loyola students and faculty.

“I want the students to teach themselves more than I give them in class,” says Jess. “I want them to see language not just as a subject to be studied but as a tool for getting around successfully in their lives in New Orleans.”

The New Orleans Culture Class has a blog, where you can find more about their explorations of New Orleans culture, at this link:

Our next post will feature several of our advanced LIEP students who are preparing to study for graduate degrees in various fields.

Photo credit: Wadner Pierre
You can find more of Wadner's work on his photo website at or on his blog at

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Welcome to the "Loyola Intensive English Program - LIEP News Now" blog!

Our biggest news is that our full Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) is up and running this year - for the first time since our closure following Hurricane Katrina. We are delighted! You can find details of our program by clicking on this link:

Here are some highlights from our fall 2010 semester so far.
  • OUR STUDENTS. Our biggest highlight is our students. Six students from China, Japan, and Vietnam have enrolled in our full twenty-hour-per-week intensive English program, and ten students from China, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam have enrolled in our Pilot program. Our Pilot students take two credit-bearing intensive English courses as well as two academic courses at Loyola.
  • PHILO CAFES. Our Pilot students participate in a Philo Cafe, or Philosophy Cafe, each month. We choose a philosophical question based on our class reading, writing, and discussion, and we explore that question in a wider forum - with students from Loyola's philosophy department, other members of the Loyola community, and any New Orleanians who wish to participate. Our Philo Cafes are facilitated by Dr. David O'Donaghue, who also facilitates Philo Cafes in coffeehouses throughout New Orleans.
  • ASIAN MARKET. For the Mid-Autumn Festival, we took a field trip to the Asian Market. We enjoyed buying food and spices for Asian cooking as well as the traditional Moon Cakes for the festival.
  • ZOO. On a bright sunny day in October, we visited the Audubon Zoo. We especially enjoyed the monkeys swinging from their trees and ropes, the alligators basking in their swamp, and the sea lions leaping and flipping as their keeper fed them fish.
  • HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS. The Pilot Applied Grammar class took a walking field trip to view and record the elaborate Halloween home decorations on State Street. The students then wrote about what they had seen, using recently studied grammar structures.
This is a taste of what we've been up to so far this semester at LIEP. In future posts, we will continue to keep you abreast of what's happening in the Loyola Intensive English Program.

Our next post will feature LIEP faculty member Jess Haley, who combines her love of linguistics, culture, and anthropology in teaching our LIEP New Orleans Culture Class.