New Program: "Language in Action"

Students StudyingELI Students had a wonderful opportunity to practice their English skills with Pine Manor College students in Professor Stephen Thompson’s First-Year Seminar: "Make and Believe – We are the Stories We Tell". The aim of the class was to have the PMC students interview the ELI students to learn their ‘stories’: their family backgrounds, heritages, traditions, and the events that led them to come to study in the US. The ELI students were asked to consider their future. Where do they see their life experiences leading them, and what are their aspirations? Initially, one Pine Manor student was paired with one student from ELI. Later, students were brought together in groups of four to allow students to interact with yet another new friend.


Cindy O'Neil, ELI Academic Coordinator, commented, "This is ‘Language in Action’. The more situations where the students can be engaged in real life language, the more confidence they will have in actually using what they have learned in class."


Stephen Thompson, PMC Professor of Philosophy, who has been a great supporter in developing the collaborative program, elaborated, “Essentially, the students are having conversations with each other, learning each others’ stories, if you will. What we hope is that these conversations will lead to cross cultural learning and awareness, as well as to increased interaction between ELI students and PMC students, because we believe that these students are important resources for each other.”


Dan Bohrs, ELI Program Director, who was instrumental in initiating the program reflected, “Reaction after the class was uniformly positive, with many students commenting that it was great to have the opportunity to meet with native English speakers. Students evaluated the class as “educational”, “great”, “a lot of fun” and that it was “cool to learn about different cultures and countries.” They appreciated being able to share thoughts and compare their cultures. Many students were surprised at how easy it was to carry on a conversation and others were surprised to hear that American college students have the same issues they do. We can be pleased with the results of this energetic and authentic interaction.”

Below are some student reactions to the class:

ELI Students“Unlike the official class, the private conversation tends to go to the unexpected subjects. Our subjects were sports, music, TV shows, etc. It was good for me to deal with American students’ thoughts.” –Yoonki


“If it is possible, I want to have more classes with many PMC students.” – Kwangsuo


“…we started talking about our families, hobbies, things that people do at our respective countries’ holidays, places we wanted to visit, things we wanted to do ....” – Paula


“I had the great chance to improve my English skill.…….It was a very nice time with conversation.” – Dongun


“It was the most interesting class that I’ve ever had in the United States…we talked about our family, some favorite holidays and even educational system in each country.” Sujin


“First I thought that I couldn’t be able to talk to the girls that talk perfect English. But then it was very different and I have a lot of fun…Also we exchange e-mails so we can continue talking and knowing each other…For me it’s one of the most important experiences in Boston that we have done.” – Camila


“Before I went there, I was nervous and little bit excited…However, when I met my partner, the worries I made flew away…I really had a great time and chance.” – Heechan


“I felt very well talking to them and I also learn new things from other cultures. One day when I will go to the countries of the students I met, I’ll probably remember the stories and the traditions that I heard that day.” – Simon

Community Conversation Partners!

Community Conversation PartnersIn an effort to provide ELI students with as many opportunities as possible to practice English with native English speakers outside of the classroom, Pine Manor College students, staff, and faculty have graciously volunteered as conversation partners for the ELI students. In a one-on-one format, ELI students have a chance to use their growing English skills. Participants are encouraged to talk about topics that they find interesting. The mission of ELI is to prepare students to use their English skills proficiently and comfortably in real life settings, whether it be for academic, professional, or personal reasons.


Dan Bohrs, ELI Program Director, who coordinated the campus wide program, remarked, " The Conversation Partners Program is designed to provide ELI students with a casual experience that mirrors life not the classroom and to enhance their intercultural experience. The program is all about opportunity. Opportunity for ELI students to use English. Opportunity for all participants to learn about a new culture, delve into a culture that they love, and make new friends! "


We thank the Pine Manor Community for making all of the ELI students feel welcomed and a vital part of the campus!

Meet the ELI Staff

Rhonda SeidmanRhonda Seidman, Executive Director

I have been the Director of Pine Manor College English Language Institute (ELI) since its inception in 1996. During this time, I have had the good fortune of meeting thousands of students from all over the world and celebrating their accomplishments. Prior to starting up ELI, I had 14 years of experience teaching and directing language schools in the Boston area. I earned my Master's Degree in Education from Harvard University and received a Certificate of Spanish Studies at the University of Mexico in Mexico City. I have traveled extensively throughout the world and have a strong affinity for learning about other cultures. I hold on to the value that by understanding, respecting, and appreciating each others cultures, we can achieve a more just and peaceful world. This is the guiding mission of our program.

After working at other schools, studying, and traveling outside of the US, I came on to start up ELI because I thought Pine Manor College was the ideal location to study English. It is located on a beautiful campus just minutes away from the vibrant center of Boston. The personal, friendly, and supportive community makes students feel at home and part of a family. Students have the opportunity to audit classes during the academic year, participate in on-campus events, and practice English with students and staff from the United States. Even the shuttle drivers sing with the students!

Our commitment is to provide you with the highest quality English classes as we help you to reach your academic, professional, and personal goals. The ELI staff understands the challenges that international students confront when they study and live outside of their home country and are always willing to assist you.

Students have told me that their experience here has been: 'unforgettable', 'invaluable', 'best experience of my life', 'priceless'.

We are confident that you will be highly successful in your studies with us, and that we can offer you an excellent educational, social, and cultural experience. We hope that you will choose to study at ELI. You will have enjoyable memories that will last a lifetime.

We look forward to warmly welcoming you to our program!


Dan BohrsDan Bohrs, ELI Program Director

I have moved around a lot in my lifetime, even living in Japan for a total of 3 years (one as a student and two as a teacher many years later). There have been many times in my life when I’ve been an outsider in a strange place, so I understand what it feels like for you to travel and live in a new place. It’s a real challenge to leave behind everyone that you know and love in order to experience something new. At the same time, it’s very exciting!

As a student in Japan, I went through many difficult times and had bouts of homesickness and culture shock. In the end, however, I became a stronger person and learned about what kind of power I have as a person. Later, I went back to Japan to teach English and to continue studying Japanese. Again, it was a challenge to work there, but I learned skills that I have used ever since and continue to use at ELI. As I travelled home, I spent 4 ½ months travelling through Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal and India. It was the greatest experience of my life!! Nothing can take the place of meeting new people in new places to help a person grow in patience, confidence, and in human understanding.

I have been living in the Boston area for 15 years, so this is now my home. It’s an exciting city with a cosmopolitan feel without being too overwhelming. Meeting people from around the world here at ELI and also in Boston connects me to the world outside and reminds me every day of my own struggles, experiences, and values. I hope to meet you soon so that I can count you as one of my many international friends!


Cynthia ONeilCynthia O’Neil, Academic Coordinator
I received my BA in Spanish. I worked for many years in the corporate world. Then in early 2001, I found a different path and started working with the Russian immigrant community. After 9-11, I felt it was vital to understand one another on a global scale. In the spring of 2005, I joined ELI as a tutor and then as a teacher. I became Lead Teacher in 2007 working with the Academic Director, and then in 2009 became Academic Coordinator.
“What I love about ELI is the vitality and diversity of points of view from all students. The school energizes me as a teacher and as a human being.”
I understand the struggles of language acquisition. I bring a love of language, and a supportive and upbeat personality to the students to help make the process more enjoyable.
Being on a small diverse college campus, ELI offers students many opportunities to use English outside the classroom in a real but safe environment.


Bob TraceyRobert (Bob) Tracey, ELI Director of Administration and Operations
I’m a life-long Bostonian. My education and previous work experience is related to business. I previously worked in such diverse industries as food service, management consulting, industrial software technology. I enjoy working and interacting with International students and agencies. I have met many kind and interesting people from diverse backgrounds. Working for ELI is almost like having cultural experiences “delivered”. I have learned much about many cultures and traditions while still being in Boston.
I enjoy learning about students’ home countries and life experiences , and I believe the students enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences with their classmates and ELI Staff.


Michelle YongMichelle Yong, Financial Coordinator
I am Korean American. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Management and Accounting. I learn everyday about different cultures from different countries, and it’s very interesting and exciting.
As a mother of a teenage daughter, listening and watching young students helps me to understand the young generation.
I have a chance to speak Korean (more than ever). I really enjoy working with young international students.


Barbara GainsboroBarbara Gainsboro, ELI Teacher
I have a BA in English Literature and an M.Ed in Teaching English. I have taught at the high school, college and adult level prior to coming to ELI. I love working with international students who are usually enthusiastic and eager to learn and share their experiences with others. Here at ELI, they receive a thoughtfully designed and coordinated program that provides a full immersion into both the language and life of America. As a result, I see huge changes in students' mastery of English. I love being in the classroom and because of my experience and the fact that my parents were immigrants, I have a particular understanding of the difficulties inherent in learning this new and fascinating language. It is a tribute to both the teachers and the school that some students continue to return to ELI even after they have achieved fluency!


Jonas MastersJonas Master, ELI Teacher

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin as an English and History major and have taught at the ELI for the past three years.

The international classroom brings a unique combination of different viewpoints and cultures. I often find that students learn as much from each other as they do from a teacher. As a result, I like to incorporate discussion, cross-cultural activities, and an open forum where students have a chance to voice their ideas into traditionally structured daily lessons. I find this creates a dynamic and informative learning atmosphere.