Languages and Cultures

English as a Second Language / English for Academic Purposes


Most incoming international students have completed the standardized TOEFL test, prior to admission to the university. However, the department also administers an ESL proficiency exam to measure students' active English skills for academic study during orientation week, which is one week before classes start. The ESL diagnostic test has three areas: 

The test takes approximately two hours.  The next ESL Proficiency Exam will be given the week prior to when classes begin or by appointment. The exam is graded by ESL specialists and results are provided to students' academic advisors. The score results for each skilll area (listening, speaking, grammar and writing) will indicated whether a course is required, recommended, or exempt for each student. Also, on the first day class, another proficiency exam is administered to further determine accurate placement.  We have classes for intermediate and advanced levels of grammar, reading and writing, listening, and speaking/ pronunciation. We also have a research writing class and a seminar for international teaching assistants, which is required for international graduate students who will instruct a class alone.

Both undergraduate and graduate students take the same exams but the results are handled somewhat differently. Undergraduates must enroll in all required ESL classes during their first semester but if they also have intermediate level requirements, then the advanced courses are to be taken during their second semester. All ESL students should take at least one regular academic course per semester.  Academic advisors should contact the ESL Coordinator about students with scheduling conflicts.

For graduate students, the outcomes of the ESL Proficiency Exam are slightly modified. The speaking section measures their ability to communicate for extended academic purposes. The written tests of graduate students are evaluated more closely with their majors. Since graduate students have core requirements, they generally take only the ESL courses they need the most. For academic advisors of graduate students whose results indicate required ESL courses, please contact the ESL Coordinator to determine which courses are most needed according to their other classes requirements and assessed ESL skill levels.

All teaching assistants who are non-native speakers of English are required to complete ESL 5400, the ITA Seminar, a 2-hour non-credit course that is offered at no cost. Exemption from the ITA Seminar is not determined from the ESL Profieiency Exam; it must be arranged with the ESL Coordinator.