For many years, TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) undergraduate and graduate students have offered classes in the EPIC (English Partners in Communication) Program in the spring to help adult second-language speakers of English to improve their oral communication skills. Teachers address a range of topics at each proficiency level, including small talk, ways to keep a conversation going, and how to disagree politely. The program also benefits the TESOL students, serving as a practicum for undergraduate TESOL minors as well as MA students.
Some of the participating second language learners have traditionally been students at MSU, while others were from the greater Lansing area. Over the years, participants were from countries from all over the world.
Due to COVID-19, the program transitioned in March 2020 to a virtual format, which has continued through spring of 2022. Continuing with the virtual format even after students returned to campus has allowed participants to eliminate masks, giving learners access to visual cues in understanding speech. Additionally, the virtual option has increased participation by welcoming participants who are outside of the East Lansing area, including people who, despite the time difference, have been participating from Vietnam.
Organizers are unsure whether EPIC will take place online or face-to-face in future years, but the collaboration between TESOL students and second-language speakers of English will certainly continue.