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ESL Program 308 Bartlett Hall (413) 545-4210
FAQ

They focus more on English language acquisition problems related to writing, feature smaller classes, and comprise only non-native speakers of English.
What can an academic discipline professor do if he or she has a non-native speaker of English student in his or her class with apparent language learning needs?


The professor can advise the student to take an ESL Program class on speaking, writing, or grammar at the same time of being enrolled in the academic discipline class. Since the ESL Program focuses on academic English for second language learners, taking a course will certainly benefit the student the most. If it is not possible for the student in question to take an ESL Program course, another option is for the student to take an Independent Study for 1-3 credits with two sponsors: an ESL Program lecturer to monitor the language learning for writing and the academic discipline professor to oversee the content component. Another option is for the student to take an Independent Study with one sponsor, the ESL specialist, who will provide guidance to help the student improve the quality of specific writing assignments.
No. The students who take ESL Program courses are full-time currently registered students who are pursuing academic undergraduate and graduate degrees at the university. In contrast, the foreign students who study in a language institute program, also known as an International English Program, study only English and are not simultaneously pursuing academic degrees while they are studying English. Examples of such language institute programs include those offered by UMass Boston, the University of Connecticut, and Northeastern University.
ESL 120 is a six-hour a week academic course that integrates writing and grammar, designed exclusively for matriculated non-native speakers of English. It has an enrollment limit of 15 students per section
The course promotes the attainment of an expert level of language proficiency for the advanced nonnative speaker of English through comprehensive, systematic study of English as a linguistic and lexical system. Students learn to notice their own particular structural errors in order to gain improved language control. The course integrates all skill areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students focus on refining their critical thinking through the use of extensive culturally diverse readings and writing assignments related to multicultural themes and diverse global perspectives. There are no prerequisites. Although first year students identified by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions take the full six hours of grammar as well as reading and writing instruction, other undergraduate students and graduate students can opt to take only one component, not both components, if they receive special permission to do so from the ESL Program.
ESL 120 was revised and updated with the support of a Center of Teaching Faculty Grant (2005-2006) awarded to Ingrid Holm, ESL Program Senior Lecturer.
ESL 130 is a five-hour a week academic writing course. It is designed for non-native speakers of English who have already achieved a high advanced level of English language proficiency. It has an enrollment limit of 15 students per section.
The course promotes an expert level of language proficiency for the advanced nonnative speaker of English through comprehensive, systematic study of the composing process. Students develop writing and revising strategies as well as proofreading and editing skills for language fluency and accuracy. The course integrates all skill areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing. Students focus on refining critical thinking through the use of extensive culturally diverse readings and writing assignments related to multicultural themes and diverse global perspectives. A wide variety of film clips are used to inspire discussion and writing assignments. There are no prerequisites. The course may be taken before or after an undergraduate student has taken English 112 or the Junior Year writing requirement. Graduate students enrolled in the course may substitute their academic discipline writing assignments for many of those on the ESL 130 syllabus.
ESL 130 was revised and updated with the support of a Center of Teaching Faculty Grant (2005-2006) awarded to Ingrid Holm, ESL Program Senior Lecturer.
ESL 130 is a specialized English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course that focuses on the attainment of second language writing skills for university courses in the academic disciplines. Not only undergraduate but also graduate students benefit as long as they enter the course with high-advanced language skills as indicated by a writing test they take on the first day of class.
ESL 120 and ESL 130 are open to all currently registered undergraduate students, both lower division and upper division students. Foreign and domestic exchange students, Five-College students and faculty, university employees holding undergraduate degrees from their native countries, and graduate students can also enroll. Visiting scholars are also invited to attend but must seek permission from the ESL Program to do so. Selected students who take the ESL Placement Test on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Admissions Office are required to follow the normal course sequence of ESL 120, followed by ESL 130.
Full-time lecturers with graduate degrees in teaching English as a Second Language and who have teaching experience at the university level teach the courses. The ESL Program faculty members belong to the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP) and to Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).
Undergraduate students earn credits toward graduation but do not earn credits for their majors. Their grades are averaged into their GPAs. Graduate students receive grades but do not earn credits.
Although certain students identified by undergraduate admissions take the entire block of six hours, graduate and other students may request to take three hours of either grammar or writing instead of taking the whole ten hours.
Being an ESL student is not a disability. Giving non-native speakers of English extra time on quizzes or exams is not routinely expected. However, since most ESL students do benefit from having extra time on quizzes and tests, it should be the individual professor's decision on whether to not to give a non-native speaker of English extra time. If professors notice a serious English language problem, they should encourage the student to pay special attention to the ESL features of his or her writing. In addition, they can recommend that the student take the ESL Program Placement Test to assess the level of English language proficiency and to identify particular language strengths and weaknesses. Students can then decide if they would like to take an ESL Program course or Independent Study.
Not in the day school. The University’s Division of Continuing Education offers non-credit workshops in ESL, which do not follow the standard university schedule. Anyone interested in these ESL workshops should contact the Division of Continuing Education at www.UMassULearn.net
For most currently registered students who are pursuing academic degrees at the university, there is no placement test or prerequisites. All undergraduate and graduate students, including exchange students, may register themselves on SPIRE. Visiting scholars are invited to attend classes but should seek permission of the ESL Program to do so. Incoming Freshmen and Transfer students selected by Undergraduate Admissions are required to take the ESL Program Placement Test. The testing dates and locations are determined by Undergraduate Admissions.
Yes, students enrolled in ESL Program courses can receive tutoring. Student interns who are undergraduate native-speakers of English tutor the students. ESL Program faculty members train and supervise these interns. At this time, tutoring is not available for students who are not currently enrolled in ESL Program courses.
Yes, a select number are available, contingent upon the approval of a cooperating faculty member in the ESL Program. For example, UMass students who are native speakers of English can earn independent study credits as intern/tutors in the ESL Program Writing and Speaking Center. These students receive training in second language tutoring and supervision throughout the semester. They are asked to analyze and reflect upon their tutoring experience journal writing and in a 4-5 page paper.
Yes, contingent upon the acceptance of an ESL Program faculty member. Many types of Independent Studies can be set up. For example, a graduate student can opt to study advanced academic English grammar in order to prepare for writing a dissertation, publishing a paper, or presenting a paper at a conference. Another example is that an undergraduate student can opt to review second language writing principles and English grammar, which can be applied to a course he or she is currently taking.
The student connot independently register on SPIRE. First, the student needs to email the ESL Program to specify in writing what topic of interest he or she would like to study. Next, an ESL Program faculty member must agree to sponsor the student for the independent study. Finally, the ESL Program registers the student on SPIRE during the first part of the semester before the end of the ADD/DROP period.
No, the ESL Program is part of the Day Division and is not affiliated with Continuing Education. Due to the fact that the ESL Program is part of the Undergraduate School, its courses are credit-bearing Faculty-Senate approved courses, and its faculty are members of the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). The ESL Program now has a new affiliation with the Graduate School.
No. Since students who take ESL Program courses are not working professionals (except for University employees), but are full-time students, the courses are offered only during the day and during the fall and spring semesters.
No. Auditing, attending a class without enrolling, is not possible. All ESL Program students must register themselves on SPIRE. The exception is a Visiting Scholar, who contacts the ESL Program or the individual instructor of an ESL Program Course, for instructions on how to attend ESL Program courses.
No. There is no additional cost for full-time undergraduate, graduate, exchange, and Five-College students. Qualified University employees are eligible for tuition waivers. Non-matriculated students who receive permission from the ESL Program to enroll must pay a fee per credit for an ESL Program course in the day division to the Continuing Education Division.
No. The School of Education, located in Furcolo Hall, offers an ESL teacher-training program. Teachers seeking ESL Certification from the Massachusetts Department of Education to teach in public elementary and secondary schools enroll in School of Education courses. For further information please contact Professor Jerri Willet(willettt@edu.umass.edu)
Only currently registered UMass students who are pursuing academic degrees or students concurrently enrolled through Continuing Education by special arrangement may take the ESL Program courses. If students that are not currently enrolled at UMass decide to take ESL Program courses, they must pay a fee per credit, as determined by Continuing Education.
The purpose of the ESL Program courses is to teach academic English language skills. The curriculum is therefore informed by the research findings of English for Academic Purposes> With an international scope, this research domain focuses on the specialized interests of nonnative speakers of English in University settings throughout the United States and the world. The ESL Program courses are content-based, using authentic materials such as readings and lectures from various academic disciplines as the basis of instruction. Specifically, the courses are designed to address new global perspectives through multicultural curricula that foster critical inquiry. All ESL Program courses promote second language acquisition by refining the four language skills: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Finally, all ESL Program courses incorporate up-to-date second language grammar and vocabulary pedagogies.
No. All ESL Program courses must be taken for letter grades.
The field of TESOL involves a professional activitiy that requires specialized training. The fact that someone speaks English alone does not qualify that person to teach it. The field requires training in linguistics, second language acquisition, language pedogogy, methodology, materials development, testing and research, curriculum and syllabus design, program administration, and cross-cultural communication. In the United States, there are more 200 institutions that offer BA, MA, and PhD programs to train TESOL professionals.
Yes. Two new ESL Program courses ESL 290 Conversation Strategies in the Classroom and ESL 290 Speaking Strategies for Presentationsand Discussion address the language and culture needs for non-native speakers of English to help them teach undergraduates more effectively in labs and in classrooms. See SPIRE for more information and how to register.
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