ESL Students Had a Merry and Bright Visit to the Houston Zoo Lights


The winter holidays are finally here and students in the Intensive English Program got to celebrate the season with a bang! To start, we had dinner and tried a variety of Christmas cookies before having a festive gift exchange at our annual Holiday Party.

Afterwards, students took a trip to the Houston Zoo to see the amazing Zoo Lights. Each year the Houston Zoo is transformed with millions of lights – over fifteen miles of LED lighting are used to illuminate the towering oak trees, winding pathways, and exhibits! Students kept warm with hot chocolate and enjoyed carousel rides and a truly enchanting display of light and sound. While the animals were asleep for the night, our students did encounter many whimsical animals made out of string lights.

As our office closes for the winter break, we hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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Gravy, Games and Gratitude at the Rice ESL Thanksgiving Luncheon

IMG_3174Happy Fall, Y’all!

On a chilly November week, our intensive English students gathered together to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season and contemplate what they’re thankful for in life. Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in the United States by gathering with your family and friends to eat, remember good things that have happened during the year, and perhaps watch some football or a parade.

We had a cozy Thanksgiving luncheon in the Grand Hall of the Rice University Student Center, celebrating new friends, new experiences, and hanging leaves on the Thankful Tree to remember what we’re grateful for this year. One of our teachers led students in a game of Turkey Day Trivia –with lucky winners receiving Rice-themed prizes– and students had lots of fun with our Thanksgiving photo booth.

Students gobbled down a delicious variety of traditional American Thanksgiving foods: roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread and cranberry sauce. To end on a sweet note, students enjoyed pumpkin and apple pies along with a Texas favorite – pecan pie. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator



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ESL Students Celebrate International Education Week with Food and Dancing

This week is International Education Week, a time to highlight the benefits of international education and exchangeWith students from five continents and 25 different countries this session, the Rice Intensive English Program has a lot to celebrate – and celebrate we did! Our students gathered to enjoy foods representing their home countries. We tried a variety of dishes, including Mediterranean favorites falafel and hummus, sopes from Mexico, dumplings from China and Taiwan, tequeños from Venezuela, and chocolates from Russia.

After that, students worked off the meal with a dance competition! The playlist was an eclectic mix of songs requested by students through social media. Our Turkish students taught everyone how to tap their toes to classics like Kasap Havası. We also bounced to some reggaeton by J Balvin and let loose with Gangnam Style, the K-Pop superhit by Psy. No matter what the beat, we love the enthusiasm our international students bring to our program.

Happy International Education Week!


Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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Say “Boo” to Halloween!


ESL students donned their most “spooktacular” costumes this week for our annual Halloween Pizza Party & Costume Contest. From adorable angels and butterflies to downright frightening monsters, Intensive English students put on a show! But there were no tricks, only treats as students and teachers enjoyed pizza, making their own treat bags of Halloween candy, and rocking to the Monster Mash.

Where’s Waldo? We found two of them! The duo won first prize in our costume contest, followed closely by the scariest bunny we’ve ever seen. There were plenty of chic witches in attendance, as well as several ghosts and even a Mario. What a great way to celebrate before students prepare for their finals!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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You are welcome here!

The Rice University English as a Second Language Program is taking part in the #YouAreWelcomeHere movement. This national social media campaign is spreading a friendly welcome message from U.S. higher education to international students around the world. We have welcomed students from more than 115 countries into our ESL programs. We value each and every one of them, as well as the unique views they bring with them.

Our program is located in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.  The energy and cultural diversity of the Houston community, including our students, contribute to making our city a rich, vibrant and exciting place to be.


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A Cooler-Than-You-Think Visit to the Museum of Fine Arts


Intensive English students in front of Cloud Column, a monumental sculpture by Anish Kapoor

Rice University ESL students enjoyed experiencing the vibrant and growing arts community in Houston, beating the heat to cool off in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. One of the largest museums in the United States, the MFAH holds a vast collection of art and artifacts from all over the world. One of our ESL teachers gave us a wonderful tour of the American collection of the museum, from early colonial art and furniture to the modern era. After exploring the museum, students walked through the sculpture garden to the newly completed Glassell School of Art and took pictures with the Cloud Column, Houston’s counterpart to Chicago’s Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”), created by artist Anish Kapoor.

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


Students learned about some of the pieces in the Modern and Contemporary Art collection


Part of the Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age exhibition


Lunch at the MFA Café


Students admiring part of the museum’s Native American Art collection



Students walking through The Light Inside, an installation by James Turrell


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Fireworks at the Bingo Table


ESL students celebrated the “Red, White and Blue” at Rice University, enjoying American staples like hot dogs, chili dogs, and veggie burgers. America’s biggest holiday, Independence Day, celebrates the day the American colonies declared themselves independent of the British Empire. Americans typically celebrate with picnics, concerts, games, and fireworks. Here in the Intensive English Program, we jammed along to American music and played a rousing game of Bingo – with two winners taking home some great Americana. What a fun way to kick off the new class session!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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Rice ESL Students Roam the Houston Zoo


Rice University intensive English students enjoyed a shady day at the Houston Zoo Tuesday, where they marveled at lions and elephants and beat the heat at the aquarium. Nestled in Hermann Park, just a short walk east of Rice University campus, the Houston Zoo is a great attraction to visit – and our students get to see it for free! Some loved the playful sea lions best, while others were drawn to the curious meerkats or lounging gorillas. We can’t wait to go back!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator

IMG_2500sleeping gorilla_crop

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Perfect Spring Weather for a Picnic on the Lawn

IMG_2390BYesterday our ESL students made the most of Houston’s beautiful springtime weather and had a picnic on the lawn! Lounging in the shade of Rice University’s trees, students spread out on blankets to enjoy the warm breeze, fresh sandwiches, cold drinks, and chat with their classmates and teachers. It wasn’t all sedentary though – there were rousing games of kickball and badminton to cheer on!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator


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ESL Students Get Their Boots on for the Rodeo!

rodeo 1

The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for learning to line dance Wednesday! Every year we take students to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to experience the largest rodeo in the world and something truly Houstonian. To get everyone in the spirit, we kick off the day with Texas chili, iced tea, and line dancing. Guests from the Houston Rodeo come to teach us how to move to the “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and kick it to the “Cupid Shuffle.”

Later than evening we loaded up on the bus to experience the rodeo and try out our new moves at the OneRepubic concert. Burritos, fried food, and cotton candy kept our students full while we watched incredible bull riding and barrel racing, followed by old crowd favorites that were new to many of our students – mutton bustin’ and the calf scramble. Everyone loved seeing the kids get right back up and wave at the cameras after falling off their animals! OneRepublic rocked a crowd of nearly 71,000 at NRG Stadium, and especially our students – everyone knew the words and sang along. Can’t wait to come back next year!

Author: Laura Lynch, Enrollment Coordinator

IMG_2162IMG_2188rodeo 4

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