The Center for Intensive English Studies (CIES) at Florida State University aims for its students to learn English so they can succeed at any institute of higher learning in the U.S.
Since 1980, CIES has done just that — graduating thousands of students who have gone on to excel in academia and beyond.
CIES is a small school, with no more than 150 students each session. Located in the Hecht House on FSU’s main campus, they offer five programs: Intensive English Studies, English for Academic Purposes, TEFL Certificate-Hybrid, Summer Bridge Program and VIP English Services.
“CIES is where students can gain all of the English-language skills and cultural knowledge necessary for success in today’s world,” said Patrick Kennell, director of the Center for Intensive English Studies. “Our community creates an immersive experience where students can learn English, make new friends, gain educational and professional experience, explore Tallahassee and incorporate themselves into American culture all at once.”
One of the more unique opportunities that CIES offers is the conditional admission of international graduate students. If an international graduate student applies to a program and meets all the requirements except for the required level of English language proficiency, the program can offer that student conditional admission. Students admitted conditionally will study at CIES at FSU until they have the necessary English proficiency to be fully admitted into their graduate program.
“My English has improved a lot since I started studying at CIES, as I’m able right now to write a full essay or article without struggling and without grammar mistakes,” said Shrouq Saied, a business management student from Egypt. “I can also speak with more confidence while having any type of conversation.”
CIES staff doesn’t just teach students to read, write, speak and understand English – they also engage students to ensure their knowledge goes beyond English grammar. Activities and excursions like tubing, trips to the beach and parties allow students to use English in a variety of settings while also learning about Florida.
At the Hecht House where CIES is located, students gather to learn, study, cook, lounge, play and bond.
“Everyone is treated well and like family,” said Abdullah Archid, a biomedical engineering student from Syria.
Small class sizes help teachers and staff build one-on-one relationships with each student to address their unique needs and levels of English proficiency.
“CIES impacted my experience in America and at FSU in many ways,” Archid said. “One of the most important ways is that the professors there were always willing to help me when I was having any difficulties with my classes.”
The small class sizes also make it easier for students to make friends and learn about other cultures.
“Everyone at CIES helped me to understand the American culture, and they gave me a lot of advice on how to interact with Americans and FSU students,” Saied said.
On average, CIES serves students from 20 countries per session. Currently there are students from 16 countries studying at CIES, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Mozambique, Philippines, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
“My English fluency changed a lot while being at CIES,” Archid said. “Before I went to CIES, I barely spoke any English, but CIES helped me so much with improving my language and connecting me with people outside of CIES so I can keep working on it.”
To learn more about CIES, visit cies.fsu.edu.