Creating a Connection Between Countries and Universities

Pinto and Krickx
Guido Krickx (left) and Paulo Pinto (right) present the benefits that Sac State has to offer for international students.

To learn a new language while experiencing a different culture can be daunting for international learners. The English Language Institute (ELI) at Sacramento State helps more than 1,000 students from numerous countries improve their language skills each year. Looking to grow, the program has focused on the Brazilian market, where the student mobility rate is on the rise.

Part of the International Programs Unit at the College of Continuing Education (CCE), the ELI offers an education to international students with a focus on an enriching experience—balancing academics and cultural engagement opportunities.

In 2012, Paulo Pinto, Director of the English Language Institute and Guido Krickx, Dean of the College of Continuing Education, participated in the Education USA Fair South America. The event was held in Brazil and Chile as part of the two countries’ efforts to foster collaborations, partnerships and mobility of South American students towards North America, particularly the United States.

Krickx and Pinto learned about Brazil’s “Science Without Borders” initiative, which planned to send 100,000 students to study abroad at top universities. After completion of an academic year, students return to Brazil to finish their degrees.

The ELI is currently working on a proposal to host executive Multicultural Business Student Association (MBSA) scholars from Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC-MG), a Brazilian institution, on Sac State’s campus.

“The goal is to optimize what the College of Business Administration already provides. There is a compatibility with the courses offered both here and PUC-MG,” says Pinto. “We want the students to come here to experience the culture, while being taught by our professors and be exposed to the business side such as networking opportunities.”

Their trip to Brazil served as a recruitment effort for Krickx and Pinto.

“We met with so many students in three cities—Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero and Brasilia—so we had an opportunity to interact with them and see what they needed,” Pinto says. “We noticed that language preparation is definitely important. The students have potential despite content errors but they still need help.”

The language preparation deficiency sparked the ELI to focus more on helping students develop the necessary skills to acquire fluency in English as a second language. Furthermore, the program provides general English skills for business, travel and educational purposes.

The connection between Brazilian universities and Sac State has only started to scratch the surface.

“Personally I would love to go back to South America. We have relationships that we’re developing with some prestigious universities and we would like to speak on behalf of Sac State to attract prospective students,” says Pinto. “The goal is to go back and build on what we have started.”

Contributed by new alumnus Sam Churich '14 (Communication Studies)