MyPLACE, My-Program for Language and Culture Exchange


West Michigan Intensive English Language Institute


My-Program for Language And Culture Exchange

The MyPLACE (My Program for Language And Culture Exchange) program at Ferris State University matches international students, who are enrolled in the Intensive English Program (IEP), with regular FSU students, who are native-speakers (NS) of English, for group conversation and project-based activities. The program is based on participation and leadership.

The NS students have the opportunity to earn Study Abroad Scholarships of $400 – $800 per semester.  They also gain leadership experience – each FSU student, along with 2-3 other NS students, will act as a team leader for a group of 7-10 IEP students. As a group, they will complete projects which could include writing blogs, articles, photos with captions, videos, designs, etc., which will then be compiled into an online portfolio. A further bonus is the possibility for publication credentials – select projects may be chosen to be published on the Ferris State University website.

 Group Members’ Responsibilities

American student Group Leaders will be responsible for the overall effectiveness of their groups. This includes conducting group meetings, assigning tasks to group members, and facilitating the completion of projects. Group Leaders will need to make sure that members are on task during group meetings. This means working on group projects, not playing cards or other non-project related activities. IEP students are responsible for attending all scheduled meetings, completing assigned tasks and working together to complete group projects.

Group meetings can be used to:

  • Plan individual tasks for the projects (outcome, research, participation, etc.)
  • Participate in the tasks (activities, research: library, surveys, videos)
  • Debrief the group about task results (summary of what you did)
  • Evaluate and revise tasks and assignments (make changes to tasks, edit papers and final products)

Group Projects

For each of the three group projects, IEP students will need to produce at least one writing
assignment in which they reflect about their experiences during the project.

Beginners – 1 paragraph

Level 1-2 paragraphs

Level 2-5 paragraphs

Level 3-5 paragraphs with outside sources

Project #1 Mythologies (Fri. Oct. 11)

Focus: The central theme of this project will be on the different mythologies from around the world. Teams will choose mythologies from 3-4 different cultures to compare and contrast.  Particular attention should be given to the unique features of the chosen myths that are representative of that culture.

Final projects can include essays, brochures, photographs, videos, and etcetera.  Projects need to be of suitable quality to be presented at the “BEYOND: Mythologies” exhibition on October 20.

Project #2 Service Learning at FSU ( Fri. Nov. 8)

 Focus: Teams will explore and experience what Service Learning is and what students gain from Service Learning during their college career. Teams will seek out experiences to learn about Service Learning and also participate in a Service Learning/Volunteer activity as a group (or in small groups within your larger group). Teams will need to contact community organizations (local church groups, food pantries, homeless shelters, animal shelters, etc.) and coordinate a schedule for their group’s Service Learning / Volunteer experience.

Be sure to document your activity with plenty of photographs, which will be used in your project portfolio along with essays from each member that describes the lessons learned from the Service Learning experience. In addition, your team will coordinate and negotiate a plan for producing, editing, and designing the materials for your portfolio.

Project #3 Exploring Academic Majors (Fri. Dec. 6)

Focus: Team members will research their academic majors. Research will include visiting the website, visiting the facilities, and meeting professors. Take notes on your impression of the facilities, what you liked best / least, which professors you met, and what they told you about the program or their courses.

Also, you will need to interview one student in your major – he/she can be an American student or an international student – but they must have already studied for 2-3 semesters in the program.

The groups will be monitored by Jo Yang ( Group leaders should be in communication with her frequently to report progress and or concerns.

Each portfolio must:

  • Include at least 1 written piece for each student (articles, essays, blogs, poems, etc.). Audio and video products are allowed as well, but each student must submit 1 piece of writing.
  • Include at least 3-5 visual components (photographs with captions, drawings with explanations, diagrams with explanations, etc)
  • Include content of academic quality specific to the assignment
  • Include products that show effort to engage in shared learning experience. Evidence for this will include finished products that show a progression of learning in some way, as well as some evidence of reflection on learning as individuals or a group.
  • Be creative!

Each team has two IEP leaders and two native-speaking leaders. The leaders should work together to delegate responsibilities for coordinating the following:

  • Communication
  • Event/experience planning
  • Attendance/participation recording and reporting
  • Portfolio production

IEP students and scholarship students will be evaluated on the following:

  • Participation/Attendance
  • Quality of interactions (as demonstrated in the portfolio)
  • Quality of the portfolio
  • Leadership