Staff Profile – Robert Snell – IEC Program

Robert Snell

Robert Snell

For nearly 20 years, Robert Snell has been a professional in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction and administration. Currently, he’s the Intensive English Communication (IEC) director at San Diego State University’s American Language Institute.

“The IEC is designed for students who want to improve their English proficiency, but language also involves ideas and culture,” said Snell. “I think this is where the ALI excels, at helping students experience language in a cultural setting. Speaking a language in isolation is very different than using it correctly in a cultural context. Our teachers, and the international mix of students, help to bring English alive in a way that is exciting and beneficial for the students.”

Students in IEC classes represent more than 20 countries. This diversity, coupled with various conversational methods, helps international students increase their English fluency together. “Working here is like being surrounded by the United Nations,” said Snell. “It’s very exciting and motivating.”

Students benefit from conversation classes in which a teacher and a facilitator guide them in impromptu conversations. There’s also the Pronunciation Clinic before and after class, as well as computer labs where students can increase their language skills by watching American films. Additionally, there are evening conversation groups where volunteers from the campus and the community come to converse with students.

Last spring, Snell created a game-based app that would help introduce the ALI and SDSU to prospective students, and hopefully get them interested in coming to the ALI. “I have experimented with different app-based games for several years,” said Snell. “I don’t consider myself an expert programmer, but  I enjoy pushing the envelope and seeing what new things can be developed.”

From his many years of working with international students, Snell observed, “It’s easy to see that despite our differences, people all over the world want much the same thing. We all want to feel like we belong, that we are making a difference in the world around us. We all want to be loved, and to find someone to love. We are all human.”