Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Our Success Stories

KGHS Language and Culture Program 2024

The English Language Institute recently welcomed international visitors from two continents with the goal of creating lasting partnerships.

In March and April, students from Kaisei Gakuin High School in Muroran, Japan, a sister city of Knoxville, worked with ELI to provide intensive language and American cultural experiences for four students. Discussions began in October with Jack Brodowski, International Department Deputy Director for KGHS who was looking for a new opportunity for his high school students to engage with a U.S. university.

The visitors participated in English classes at ELI from 9 a.m.-noon and spent the afternoon taking part in various cultural experiences organized by ELI staff — Doug Terry, Anna McDaniel and Rosario Grass. The students also participated in the Student Global Experience Showcase during the Center for Global Engagement’s first Global Engagement Summit, met Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, visited Great Smokey Mountains National Park and joined activities at the International House on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus.

What impressed our students the most was the exposure to different cultures in a classroom, appropriate language level placement and teacher-to-student ratio,” Brodowski said. “Other than that, delicious food and the southern hospitality were very common comments.”


Friends Across the Sea 2022

“I liked interacting with native students! They speak so fast and use some slang. So sometimes I couldn’t keep up with the conversation… But I could learn a lot from them! Thank you!”

Friends Across the Sea was a custom-designed online 6-week program connecting students from three Japanese universities with University of Tennessee students. 

International students practice English communication proficiency with their American peers through such means as:

  • Communications skills
  • Friendship
  • Virtual shared campus videos made by international student teams—”Where do you study?” What is your favorite place on campus?” “What does the gym look like?”
  • Project-based learning (PBL) design
  • Conversation about friends, family, food, traditions, and ambitions for the future

Friends Across the Sea used internet media to connect University of Tennessee students with university students in different countries. The pilot project included students from three renowned Japanese universities: Kobe University, Kansai Gaidai University, and Gakushuin University. Japanese students met in a virtual “class” every weekday for 6 weeks to learn communication techniques such as introducing themselves, agreeing and disagreeing, talking about contrasts and comparisons. Additionally, they met in two cohorts every week to socialize and create projects together with American undergraduate students from the University of Tennessee. In special sessions, they also heard about business and job connections between Japan and Tennessee and about college life at the University of Tennessee.