Welcome Students and Friends of the ELA!

Students from the ELA along with teachers and friends enjoyed an interactive scavenger hunt at the Whitewater City Market by the lakefront on Tuesday, September 17.

This semester our English Language Academy is thrilled to welcome students from Japan, China, and France. Our students seem to be doing very well adjusting to their new home here at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. We have kept them very busy as they have taken part in the Student Involvement Fair and the Global Experiences Fair. They have also ventured out to meet with the Chamber of Commerce and visit our Whitewater City Market on the lake for a Scavenger Hunt. Students enjoyed mingling with the area merchants, trying new foods, and listening to live music at the market. We have more adventures coming up next week. Please check us out on Instagram and Facebook.

As always, we appreciate the warm welcome our students have received from both our Whitewater campus and local community.

Community Engagement in the English Language Academy

Greetings from the English Language Academy!

We are off to a great start in the ELA this semester. We have welcomed new students from China and Italy, and we have been up to our usual with community engagement.

Here are a few highlights of how we are tapping into our campus and larger community in order to learn, share, and gain new perspectives.

Last week, we participated in the Spring Diversity Forum’s Cultural Conversation event. Special thanks to our student Aurora Barassi from Italy and our peer mentor Montserrat Cuevas for volunteering to be table leaders at this all-inclusive campus event. All students had a chance to engage in conversations to explore topics ranging from clothing to social expectations and discuss how these topics relate to gender. We all appreciated a supportive and safe environment where we could listen to alternative views.

Aurora from Italy acted as a facilitator at the Diversity Forum.
Spring Diversity Forum Cultural Conversations event

Another event we participated in last week was our visit to Fairhaven. Every semester, our ELA students are paired with friends from Fairhaven to engage in multiple cultural exchanges. Some exchanges take place at Fairhaven and others are on our campus. Thank you to our Fairhaven partners for always being kind and helpful. We chatted about everything from holidays to World War II.

Blyth from China visits with his Fairhaven friend Dee Dee.

This semester we have also enjoyed educational visits to the Chamber of Commerce, The Book Teller, Roberta’s Art Gallery, Career and Leadership, our campus TV and radio stations, and more. We would like to thank our campus and community for always being warm and welcoming.

Leo from China and Pierre from France got to check out the TV studio during their tour of our campus radio and TV station. Thank you to Professor Lucas for showing us all of the amazing equipment and showing us what happens behind the scenes.

Cheese Tasting Event Wednesday, October 16, 2119

English Language Academy at UW-Whitewater

Celebrates 5th Anniversary by

Hosting 5th Annual International Cheese Tasting Open House

October 2, 2019 (Whitewater, WI): The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s English Language Academy (ELA) is thrilled to announce its five-year anniversary and 5th annual Cheese Tasting Open House. The event will take place at the UW-Whitewater campus on the 4th floor of Heide Hall in Rooms 460 and 466 on Wednesday, October 16th from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

International students from China, Japan, Zimbabwe, Italy, Russia, and France will host the interactive, educational event as they offer up Wisconsin cheese along with bits of Wisconsin dairy history and fun facts about select Wisconsin cheese companies.  There will be games, displays, survey results, and an unusual variety of cheese to sample. The public will have the chance to try some specialty cheeses, learn some new information, chat with some of our UW-Whitewater international students, and vote for their favorite cheese.

“The Cheese Tasting is always our most popular event with the campus and by far the most rewarding for our international students,” says Anjie Kokan, ELA instructor and coordinator. “We are especially excited that it’s our five-year anniversary this year, and we are happy to celebrate that with our campus and community through a project-based learning event.”

Brianna Deering, ELA coordinator and Business English teacher for international students adds, “The business students gain the opportunity to research Wisconsin cheese companies, and then they create flyers and displays highlighting the feature cheeses from the companies. It’s a great way to tie business and culture together in an authentic learning environment.”

This year, students from Dr. Rossitza Ivanova’s English US Culture class will be interviewing people in the campus and community prior to the event to establish what kind of cheese is Whitewater’s favorite. The results will be revealed at the Cheese Tasting along with a chance to try Whitewater’s most popular cheese.

Meet English 163

These students from Dr. Rossi Ivanova’s class are studying about the culture of the United States. They will be part of the Cheese Tasting event on Wednesday , October 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in Heide 466. The students from Japan, Russia, Italy, Zimbabwe, and China are currently surveying our campus and community to find out which cheese is the most popular. Please come to cheese tasting and find out the results. #UWWELAcheesetasting

Students in photo: Brenda (China), Yuki (Japan), Luca (Italy), Danila (Russia), Lainah (Zimbabwe), Haruka (Japan) 

English 163 Students Visit Local Businesses

By: Donfak Dongo, Diana Mora and Gary

The entrance to The Black Sheep restaurant.

In the English language, “black sheep” is an idiom used to describe a person that goes against the norms.

English 163 class visited the local restaurant Black Sheep – which is a small non-franchised restaurant – to learn about business practices in the United States. The founder of Black Sheep, Tyler Sailsbery, is a former student of UWW. He also has one more restaurant in Whitewater, Casual Joe’s.  Current university students are employed at both restaurants.

Tyler gave us a tour around the restaurants and a detailed explanation on how he started the business and what he valued about it. We also had the opportunity to taste some of the food made at Casual Joe’s. It was delicious!

Casual Joe’s has an open view concept where customers can see how their food is prepped.

We learned that it takes determination and creativity to start a business. For example, at Casual Joe’s the owner used inexpensive materials such as the chairs and tables that he purchased cheaply from UWW. He also did not get discouraged by the hardships of starting a business and did what he had to do to succeed. We learned that one can start a business with a small budget and keep improving as one grows.

The visit helped us see that owning a business necessitates a lot of hard work and management. Also, a restaurant should have something different from other competitors, but not too new or formal, because casual menus and atmosphere make people want to come back again.

This experience related with our textbook chapter and it helped us see different aspects of business in real life. It helped us see and compare business practices here and in our own countries of Mexico and Cameroon, for example.

Here is a video link that showcases the students’ tour experience at The Black Sheep and Casual Joe’s! Credits: Donfak “Bih” Dongo

ELA Visits the Chamber of Commerce

On Wednesday, March 13, UW-Whitewater English Language Academy students visited the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce and talked with the executive director, Marie Koch. Students learned how this organization helps local businesses. They also learned these facts:

  • The town of Whitewater is now an official Ice Age Trail community! This is great news for those who are interested in hiking and learning more about the Ice Age Trail.
  • The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater is also an official Ice Age Trail university. That is even more good news for students who are interested in nature. There will be a big celebration at UW-Whitewater in April to mark the occasion.
  • Two new businesses opened in Whitewater within the last two weeks. One is called The Book Teller and is located in an old bank building. The other is La Piazza Pizzeria, owned by the same folks who run the popular Italian restaurant, Fanatico.

Mingwei from China peruses used books for purchase at The Book Teller.

The Book Teller is located within an old bank. You can still see the safes in the backroom!

  • We also learned that Whitewater’s nickname is “Nature’s Playground.” This is because of all the beautiful nature surrounding Whitewater and all the different ways people can enjoy outdoor activities here. Hiking is very popular in Whitewater.

    The Kettle Moraine State Forest (Southern Unit) is only a 20 minute drive away from Whitewater.

It was a great day for ELA students to learn more about their community, the natural wonders surrounding our town, and talk with people directly involved in building up this community.

Exploring UWW History

This past February,  students in English 163: Introduction to U.S. Culture for International Students class learned about University of Wisconsin – Whitewater history by exploring the permanent exhibit, The Royal Purple, located on the ground floor of the University Center. The Royal Purple is UWW’s official student-run newspaper since 1901. Here, we share one student’s reflections.

Donfak Dongo (“Bih” from Cameroon) reported that she was impressed to read about “the 16 grievances of the Afro-American students [which was] a turning point for the black student committee […] in February 18, 1969.”

The headlining story for the February 1969 issue.

Donfak continued, “Because of the [students’] firm rejection of President Carter’s vague answers to the Afro-American’s demands at a press conference of making the Black student Union culturally relevant, having a seat on the student senate, increasing financial aid and so forth, President Carter was compelled to pay the issue more attention to accommodate their needs.”


Commenting on her UWW history “find,” Donfak reflected: “What I found interesting was the firmness and briefness in which the Afro-American students’ representative addressed the topic to the press. This showed how determined they were to make their voices heard.”

Donfak D. from Cameroon visits The Royal Purple exhibit here in Whitewater, WI.

Sharing Proverbs from Different Cultures

In pronunciation class this week, students shared different proverbs from their countries to practice the final “s” sound in words.

We loved these proverbs so much that we wanted to share them. Here they are:

  • “With time, everything is possible. ” – Baptiste from France says this is a common saying in his country.
  • “Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.” – One of Xinyi’s favorite proverbs from China.
  • “A kind saying makes you warm in the cold winter. An evil saying makes you cold in the hot summer.”   – Mingwei from China shared this with us.

Students featured above: Baptiste A. (France), Payton D. (class peer mentor from Illinois), Xinyi Z. (China), and Mingwei X. (China).


Valentine’s Day in the English Language Academy at UW-Whitewater

We enjoy learning about American holidays at the English Language Academy at UW-Whitewater!

Below are some snapshots from our Valentine’s Day lessons in Dr. Huss-Lederman’s writing class, English 162.

In the first picture of English 162 , Andrea Schwartz (Norway) is unwrapping a Valentine’s Day chocolate bar that has a love poem in the wrapper.

Alex Gohan (Indonesia), Shangquian Ye (China), Yifan Zhang (China) and Andrea Schwartz (Norway) are reading interpretations of lyrics from “All of Me” by singer John Legend in the second picture of English 162.


Brianna Deering’s Listening and Speaking class visited our friends at Fairhaven. Here is what Xinyi Zhang from China wrote about their experience:

My classmate and I went to Fairhaven to experience Valentine’s Day. We walked together and talked about the weather. When I saw Su and her husband, I felt happy. They showed us their apartment, where it was so beautiful. We saw some photos about their family. Her husband told some stories to us. Then my teacher wanted us to share Chinese culture, we used chopsticks to move candies and told about Chinese New Year. I felt happy because I felt love from them.

Xinyi and Mingwei (center left and center right, China) enjoyed spending Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year time with our friends, Ed and Sue (far left and far right).