During her two-week project in Sri Lanka, English Language Specialist Christine Fiorite conducted a needs assessment to narrow the English language learning gap at the University of Moratuwa. As Sri Lanka’s premier technological university, Moratuwa is a prime destination for citizens moving to engage with the global economy. Fiorite conducted interviews with over fifty students and thirty faculty members to collect data about the the English language needs, wants, and priorities on campus. Through this process, Fiorite found that the Moratuwa community came to an organic and widely agreed conclusion: students would benefit from more individualized attention and support from their instructors as well as more interactive opportunities to engage with practicing English both inside and outside of the classroom.
Fiorite used the findings from the needs assessment to make concrete recommendations for strengthening the English for Specific Purposes engineering curriculum. Fiorite not only worked on strategies to address curricular and pedagogical challenges but went deeper, taking on the creation of interdepartmental communication and support networks. Her final recommendations lay the foundation for greater professional development for staff, pre-academic onboarding for students, the leveraging of an English club, and dedicated social-media projects. The positive impact of Fiorite work has contributed to narrowing the English language learning gap at the University of Moratuwa, further opening student’s doors to the world.
Dr. Christine Fiorite is an instructor at the University of Chicago’s English Language Institute and a professional tutor at the Tutoring and Learning Center at Joliet Junior College. Her career experiences include time as a Peace Corps teacher trainer in Guinea-Bissau and in the engineering department at Purdue University Northwest. She holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics/TESOL from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a certificate of graduate study in advanced quantitative methodology in education, and a doctorate in higher education from Northern Illinois University.