International Students in American Pathway Programs: Learning English and Culture through Service-Learning


  • Julie Miller Northeastern University, United States
  • Becca Berkey Northeastern University, United States
  • Francis Griffin Northeastern University, United States



international students, ESL, ELL, service-learning, pathway programs, student development, transformative learning


As the number of international students studying in the United States continues to grow, the body of literature about service-learning in English Language Learning (ELL) curricula is growing in tandem. The primary goal of this paper is to explore how service-learning impacts the development and transition of pathway program students in the United States. Authors present recent demographic shifts in ELL student education, a concise introduction to pathway programs, an overview of literature about service-learning with international students, and theoretical and practical factors to consider for facilitators of Learning English and Culture through Service-Learning (LECSL) based on data from 250 students at Northeastern University.

Author Biographies

Julie Miller, Northeastern University, United States

JULIE MILLER, MSW, is a Lead Instructor and founding Service-Learning Coordinator in NU GLOBAL at Northeastern University. She is a Lecturer in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University and is a Research Associate at the MIT AgeLab. Julie has practiced and published extensively at the intersection of intercultural and intergenerational service-learning with international students in the United States. 

Becca Berkey, Northeastern University, United States

BECCA BERKEY, PhD, is the Director of Service-Learning in the Center of Community Service at Northeastern University. Before coming to Northeastern, she worked at several other institutions, focused at the crossroads of the curricular & extra-curricular student experiences. In addition to research and publications in the field of service-learning and experiential education, Becca is part of the Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative and has an active research partnership regarding worker and farmer justice with the Northeast Organic Farming Association. 

Francis Griffin, Northeastern University, United States

FRANCIS GRIFFIN, MA, is the Director of Global Pathways at Kaplan International. He is a higher education administrator with a longstanding interest and commitment to international education, language study, intercultural relations, and cross-cultural studies. Francis has lived, studied, worked, and taught English as a Foreign Language in Suzhou, China and writes and speaks Mandarin Chinese. 




How to Cite

Miller, J., Berkey, B., & Griffin, F. (2015). International Students in American Pathway Programs: Learning English and Culture through Service-Learning. Journal of International Students, 5(4), 334–352.



Research Articles (English)