Meet Ryan, WESLI's New Learning Community Coordinator!


Meet Ryan Peterson, WESLI teacher, Dormitory Learning Community Coordinator and all around great guy! Ryan is responsible for welcoming dormitory students, assigning roommates, helping students feel comfortable in Madison and at WESLI, and of course, teaching them English. Ryan is well suited for the job: He has a degree in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and then also an ESL teaching certificate from UW-Milwaukee, one of the 26 university and college partners we have in the UW system, where a number of WESLI students continue their studies.

Ryan Peterson is the first WESLI staff member many students meet.

“I pick up dormitory students when they arrive in Madison, so learning at WESLI starts when they literally step off the plane or bus,” Ryan said. “Our oral interviews are the first test of English, and I tell the students that in talking casually with me now, they have just passed their first test!”

And because Ryan actually lives in the WESLI dormitory, he is able to offer evening tutoring, writing help and conversation twice each week in the dormitory classroom. While any student at WESLI can take advantage of this free English practice, it’s most convenient for those who live in the dormitory.

Extra orientation to Madison is another benefit for students who live in the WESLI Dormitory Learning Community. Ryan accompanies students on local buses to show them how to get to large grocery and department stores, and by bus or on foot to libraries close to WESLI, and other places of interest.

Ryan is passionate about helping students take many opportunities to study English while at WESLI.

“Learning English doesn’t stop in the classroom,” he said. “The dormitory is an extension of WESLI’s goal to foster interactive English learning in a safe community environment.”

To that end, Ryan uses language as a criterion for assigning roommates, trying to separate students with the same native language so they must communicate in English.

Ryan also advises students to make the most of their English studies in their relationships with other students and teachers by attending WESLI social events and activities and working with others on group projects.

A significant benefit of the Dormitory Learning Community is that each suite has a Smart TV, which allows students to access class information, listen to assigned TED Talks or other lectures, and collaborate on class projects, all from the comfort of their dormitory rooms.

Ryan enjoys being part of the WESLI Dormitory Learning Community, and our students appreciate his presence in the dormitory, as well. “A few days ago,” Ryan said, “one of my students saw me in the dormitory and said, ‘Teacher, you’re one of us!’”

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