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Sachiko Larrimore: Helping students gain access to English language skills

Sachiko Larrimore of ELA
As the admissions coordinator of enrollment for the English Language Academy, Sachiko Larrimore assists international students through the ELA program and student visa application processes, and typically stays in touch with students throughout their time on campus. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Since 2016, Sachiko Larrimore has lent her time and expertise to DePaul’s English Language Academy. With a background in college counseling and student services, Larrimore is the admissions coordinator for enrollment in the ELA and the first point of contact for many of the university’s international students.

“We are a small team, so we all do a bit of everything,” Larrimore says. “From admissions and communication with potential and incoming students, to inquiries and guidance to the students on campus – there is never a dull moment in our office.”

Each academic quarter, the ELA serves anywhere from 80 to 100 students. Its goal is to provide international students with the English language skills they’ll need to eventually succeed academically at DePaul and as professionals in the United States or other English-speaking countries. The program even offers pronunciation training, designed to help participants further enhance their day-to-day communication, presentation, and even job interview skills. 

Once an international student herself, Larrimore understands the stress that can come with traveling to and studying in another country with a different language.

“I moved from Japan to California as a graduate student, so I get some of the difficulties of being totally immersed in a new culture,” she says. “During that time I had a great mentor who helped guide me through the various processes of international student life. That’s what I try to emulate in my role at DePaul.”

Beyond initial inquiries from prospective ELA students and their parents, Larrimore also assists students through the program and student visa application processes, and typically stays in touch with students throughout their time on campus. 

“We often communicate with prospective students and applicants for months before they actually arrive at DePaul. It’s wonderful to put a face to the emails when they finally get here, but because we work with students from all over the world with different language backgrounds, we often use a lot of hand gestures when communicating face-to-face,” she laughs. “The best part of my job is when students walk into our office at the end of their program and can completely communicate what they want to say in English. That full circle moment is amazing.”

In addition to the courses offered throughout the academic year, the ELA also hosts a summer English language and culture program. Designed for both international students and visitors, the program provides participants with a meaningful way to enhance their English language proficiency while discovering Chicago’s cultural offerings. This year’s program is set for July 8 to Aug. 2. Learn more about and apply for the program on the ELA website.