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English language PAL program forges friends

by Mary Landolt, DELP student adviser


Toshihiro (Toshi) Iha’s and Mitsuhiro (Hiro) Matsumoto’s PAL, Tejon Woods, is a person who really likes involvement in various activities and loves to associate with people from other cultures. He was president of the Japanese/English Association at a college in San Francisco before coming to HPU. Now he is a senior and served as fall president of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). He has traveled in the military, has a nursing degree, and has worked in Japanese and Chinese hospitals.

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The two new students from Japan agreed that Woods is a “very good guy” who helped them learn about Hawai‘i and HPU and practice their English communication. Woods shared with them his love of sports. He went to their soccer games and taught them what he knew about basketball, helping them get membership and access to practice basketball every week at 24-hour Fitness.

They dined together and shared a number of CELP activities in the fall, including HPU volleyball, a trip to Sea Life Park, and the annual CELP picnic. Mostly Toshi and Hiro appreciated Tejon’s “friendliness and his funny jokes.” It probably helped that he had learned some Japanese and had spent nine months in Okinawa, their home.

Another active PAL in the fall was Karen Mirikitani, a graduate student from the MA/MBA programs. “Getting to know the international students reminded me when I was a tutor for the EFP writing courses,” Mirikitani said. “This golden opportunity to be a PAL member is priceless; I can fully empathize with the students’ needs for the confidence to improve their English language abilities, especially if they plan to make the transition to regular college courses.”

Any HPU student interested in becoming a PAL in the future can call 544-9324 or e-mail

Whant to be a PAL?
by Karen N. Mirikitani, staff writer

By definition, a pal is a person you know well, with whom you can adventure in loyalty and understanding. Last fall , the Center for English Language Programs (CELP) started a new volunteer PAL program that would pair English-speaking HPU students with student enrolled in lower-level English language courses (e.g., EFP 0400). Mary Landolt, CELP student advisor, developed the idea to assist new international students coming to study English at HPU. She knows new students studying basic English need to get acquainted with the new environment as well as practice their English language skills.

Landolt noticed that many new CELP students seemed confused and reserved. “First-time HPU students in the EFP are often homesick or overwhelmed from being away from home,” she said. Such students “feel the need to be with students from their own country, and the chances of their improving their English are therefore hampered.” One EFP student, who was shy about making a statement in English, said that the language is challenging, and native speakers often don’t realize how complicated it really can be. She added that there are just too many idioms and words that sound alike but have different meanings. This is especially true for students from such Asian countries as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, whose languages are unrelated to English.

In the fall, Landolt recruited 11 HPU students from various undergraduate and graduate majors to work with the 16 students in EFP 0400. Spring semester PALs are Sunny Ahn, Jacqueline Chan, Felice Chia, Melody Cole, John Colobong, Bryan Feliciano, Ben Kalu, Sunny Kim, Mervin Marenga, Michael Ogle, Jenne Rempel, Linda Takai, and Sean Tong.

“We’ve started the new spring term and have invited more HPU students to participate. New PALs will be assisted in the entire process and can, but don’t have to, be in the Teaching English as Second Language degree program to join in the fun of meeting and matching up with our students,” said Landolt.

Major requirements for PALs include commitment, patience, and cultural sensitivity.



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