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Friday, June 11, 2010

30th Anniversary of CIES, by Joachim Faussignaux

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On April 9th, the Center of Intensive English studies (CIES) celebrated the 30th Anniversary of its existence. For this event many personalities like Dr. Frederick Jenks, who founded the center, and the Provost of Florida State University (FSU) Dr. Lawrence Abele were present. This event also involved the personnel of the center, some students and some friends were invited to take part in this important occasion. CIES has not always worn this name. It used to be called the Center for Professional Development and this is related to the story of Dr. Jenks. So who is Dr. Jenks?

Frederick L. Jenks, known as “Rick Jenks”, is a professor emeritus at FSU who was the originator of the worldwide-recognized post-graduate program in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Languages (TESL/TEFL). After earning a Master of Arts degree from Case Western Reserve University (1966) and a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages from Grove City College in 1963, He got the idea of a program where people will learn English as a second language and after study in an American college. His mission was to build a place where international students will be taught well. In 1975 the first cohort included two doctoral students as teachers and a few international students. Dr. Jenks directed CIES at FSU from 1979-2002. In relation with CIES, Dr. Jenks was, from 1996 to 2000, the director of Florida State University Panama Canal Branch campus whose goal was to seek ways for the university to continue operations after the revision of the Canal Zone to the Republic of Panama. Also, he was chosen as the first U.S. TEFL professor to offer in-service teacher training in the former Czechoslovakia after 31 years of USSR occupation in 1987. Dr. Jenks received the Heinle & Heinle Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in 2002.

At the early beginning just some activities were provided. Nowadays, CIES is an incredible fully operational center with many activities provided to tons of students every year. At the beginning the goal of the center was to teach English to international students academically. The center over the years got the experience to make the teaching fun, attractive and beneficial for everyone. Students have the opportunity to get directly in touch with American students through the Conversation Partner for example. Students also learn about the country, its history, the city (Tallahassee) and its neighborhood where they study through some activities like visiting a museum or having some trips to St Georges Island. Wafi Almaro, an international student from Saudi Arabia studying at CIES, said to describe the teaching at the center that “learning English at CIES is not difficult because of the attention that each student gets from the teachers”. Dr. Jenks mentioned in his speech “students don’t care about what a teacher knows until they know that teachers care about them”. This philosophy is observed at CIES. Teachers devote one on one time to each student, therefore students can be comfortable to ask question to clarify concepts and comprehension discussing in class and outside class. Moreover, the passion, which motivated Dr. Jenks at the commencement of CIES, is the same that animates each teacher working at the center.

This 30th Anniversary of the Center of Intensive English Studies was calling for the memorable and incredible job that Dr. Jenks started twenty years ago. Dr. Patrick Kennel who is currently the director of CIES and used to be a student of Dr. Jenks, has been following the dream and providing a better place for every international student. The Center of Intensive English Studies is a big family that students integrate into when they come. They grow up in this family learning how to live in society with people from different cultures while learning English. When these students leave CIES, they are skilled English students ready to succeed in their collegial studies in an American university or college. That is the reward of Dr. Jenks and the center that he created.

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