Civic Engagement and the ELP

The ELP at the University of Michigan-Flint is fully engaged in community outreach. The ELP is in line with the University’s mission to connect campus and community to support learning, collaboration and partnerships through Civic Engagement (CE) projects. CE is integrated into the English Language Program Listening and Speaking curriculum. Connecting ELP students to our community provides insight and awareness along with authentic learning environment for language learning. Students participate in a level-appropriate CE project where they:

  • Build listening and speaking skills
  • Expand vocabulary in an authentic environment
  • Practice effective note-taking skills
  • Compose reflections throughout the experience


Spring 2016

Carriage Town Ministeries (Levels 2, 3, & 6)

Through this experience students in levels two, three and six learned new vocabulary, practiced note-taking skills, and interacted with a variety of native speakers. Many were surprised to learn that homelessness and poverty were issues in the United States. During class discussions, students all agreed that it felt rewarding to help others, and they were grateful for the experience. They also experienced interacting with native speakers from a variety of ages and backgrounds and learned how to adjust according to different rates of speech and style of speaking. Additionally, the people working for Carriage Town were always warm and welcoming and truly made the experience memorable for teachers and students. 


UM-Flint Early Childhood Development Center (Level 1)
A guest speaker from the ECDC provided the pre-activity visit to the classroom. Students practiced reading stories prior to reading to the children at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). The children listened to an international students read stories to them. Although limited in spoken English, this activity provided an opportunity to practice using English in an authentic learning environment.                      

Experiential Learning Activities (Level 2)
Prior to the experiences, students studied the vocabulary and performed role plays in preparation for a visit to a restaurant where they ordered food and communicated with restaurant staff. In addition, students learned the bus route in Flint by navigating their way to Flint Bishop Airport. Prior to the airport visit, students studied the vocabulary necessary to successfully complete the experience and formed questions to ask the guest speaker from the airport customer service department. To fulfill a number of the communicative competence outcomes, students learned and practiced the necessary vocabulary to complete their assignment at the Farmers’ Market. For highlights of the activities, click on the following link

Experiential Learning Activities (Level 3)    
Funded through a University Outreach grant, students visited the Sloan museum, the Farmers’ Market, and collaborated with an academic class for cultural exchange. All experiences lent themselves to students meeting outcomes in learning more about American and local culture, note-taking, listening comprehension, and communicative competence. At this level, students were eager and well-equipped to take the lead in planning and executing the experiences.  

Carriage Town Ministries (Level 4)
Prior to the service learning experience, students were prepared for the experience by listening to the volunteer Director’s overview of the center and task descriptions. During the presentation, students practiced note-taking skills. Following the presentation, students volunteered at the center where they organized donations. In addition to volunteer work, students conducted a clothing donation drive and returned to the center for a follow up volunteer experience.

My Brother’s Keeper (Level 5)
Two representatives from MBK came to the classroom to speak to the students about the mission and purpose of MBK. Students practiced note-taking skills during the presentation followed by the opportunity to ask question. Ultimately, the students planned and prepared a cultural dinner for the residents and provided much needed supplies for the guests. This experience provided a forum for ELP students to practice many of the communicative competence outcomes that they had been practicing in class. The residents of MBK were grateful for the students and their contribution of food, personal necessities and comradery.                        

Exploring Majors Through Art (Level 6)
Funded through a University Outreach grant, students visited the FIA, hosted an art gallery with their imagery, gave classroom presentations and had guest speakers. The culmination of these activities provided students with the opportunity to critically think about the impact their educational opportunities and later career goals. Given the breadth of the activities, students had ample opportunities to practice note-taking, listening, and speaking skills studied in class. A portfolio of their work was kept by the students throughout the term.

Fall 2015

Carriage Town Ministries (levels 2 and 4)
Students volunteered at the Carriage Town Ministries (CTM) - Clothing Donation Center. Prior to visiting the site, students listened to a presentation by the Volunteer Coordinator, Cindy Johns, of the center in preparation for their first experience. Upon arrival at the Carriage Town Ministries site, students were given a tour of the CTM shelter and donation center. The volunteer coordinator gave an overview of the volunteer tasks and arranged students into groups. Tasks included: sorting clothes, hangers, and shoes. Following the volunteer experience, students held a donation drive in the NBC and collected over 1,500 items. At a second visit to CTM, students delivered and sorted the items that they collected. Check out our students in action!

Carreer Information (level 3)
Weaved throughout the curriculum in the level three course is information regarding careers. Given that, this group participated in experiential learning to better understand various career opportunities and utilize the language skills that they had been acquiring in an authentic environment. Students listened to guest speakers and took notes on the following careers: dental hygiene and social work. In addition to presentations, students visited Bishop Airport where they received a tour of the airport and garnered information on a number of careers that they had never had exposure to. All in all – the most exciting part of the airport is when the students were able to view an airplane landing first hand.

North End Soup Kitchen (level 5)
Students volunteered at the North End Soup Kitchen (NESK). Prior to visiting the site, students listened to a presentation by the Director, John Manse, in preparation for their first experience.
Students took public transportation (MTA) to get to the center. Upon arrival, students were given a tour of the soup kitchen and an introduction to the types of tasks that they would be performing. Tasks included: food preparation and distribution as well as greeting clients as they arrived. Following this experience, students and their teacher were compelled to return to once again give back their time to the community.

Academic Preparation (level 6)
The level six class participated in a number of exciting experiential learning activities. They met with the UM-Flint international student advisor, collaborated with a Linguistics course and, shared distance learning experiences with students from a regional foreign language course. A great deal of language learning took place with a mutually beneficial end result. Many of the students (both UM-Flint and regional university) remained in communication. Students in this course felt more connected to the university and confident in their speaking skills thanks to the initiative undertaken by their teacher. 

Spring 2015

Invasive Species Exploration (levels 3, 5, and 6)
Students in two separate courses learned about invasive plant and animal species in Max Brandon Park in Flint and greater Michigan areas. Professors and local experts on the subject educated students on species in a local park, located in the north area of Flint. Students gave presentations and had reflective discussions on their experience.

Fall 2014

Community Garden Project- Harvest & Food Preservation (level 4)
Students utilized the Urban Alternative House (UAH) raised garden spaces and attempted to plant more vegetables, predominantly late-season vegetables. To complement the garden project, students participated in workshops given by the MSU Extension on food preservation methods. Students learned the basics of canning by creating salsa and also attended a locally produced play related to harvesting and the importance of the Flint Farmers Market, 9X Nourished.

Spring 2014

Community Garden Project (level 4)
Students participated in the use of a community space in the East Village of Flint, Michigan. The Urban Alternatives House (UAH) is a collaborative project between the Earth Resource Science Department (ERS) and the UM-Flint and the Genesee County Land Bank. Students visited and interviewed a local farmer, volunteered with Edible Flint in distributing seeds, showcased a documentary of their work at artwalk, and attended a thematically appropriate play, Bloom, at the Flint Youth Theater.