Each year multilingual English language learners attend the Intensive English Institute (IEI), housed within UMaine, to build their English language skills. This Summer, IEI students from Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Chile, Ivory Coast, China, Japan, and Russia participated in the recently developed Earn-A-Bike program put on by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Recognizing that English language learning extends beyond the confines of the classroom, IEI strives to offer its students a comprehensive experience that includes experiential learning, community building, and integration.
Under facilitator Erik daSilva’s guidance, IEI students were able to foster meaningful connections with their peers and the community while learning valuable skills. Students learned first-hand how to repair and maintain bicycles and received comprehensive instruction on traffic safety rules and regulations, equipping them with the necessary knowledge to navigate the roads responsibly. Upon completing this free program, students were rewarded for their hard work and dedication with a fully refurbished bicycle, a new helmet, bike-lock, safety lights, and an at-home repair kit.
By combining language learning, bicycle mechanics, and traffic safety, the Earn-a-Bike program serves as a catalyst for personal growth and community integration. Through this initiative, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Erik daSilva have made a lasting impact on the lives of these multilingual learners, empowering them to explore their surroundings, foster healthy habits, and embrace the joys of cycling while ensuring their safety on the road.
The Intensive English Institute stands as an esteemed English language program. While numerous multilingual learners enroll in IEI with aspirations of pursuing a UMaine degree, the institute also welcomes exchange students from UMaine’s sister universities, individuals who have transferred from other educational institutions, spouses and family members of faculty and visiting scholars, and community members eager to enhance their English language proficiency. This summer additionally welcomed new Mainers who attend the Community English program and have recently emigrated to the area.