Program Details

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CESL Students studying

Terms of Study

There are four 8-week terms during the regular academic school year and one in Summer. Check out the complete term schedules. The terms begin in August, October, January, March, and May, making a total of five enrollment periods for the year.


Initial course placement into the nine-level program is determined by performance on the Oxford Placement Test and an internal Diagnostics Exam. It is possible each term that classes at one or more levels will not be offered if there is not a sufficient number of students.

Overview & detailed description of CESL Curriculum

The complete CESL program has nine levels, the lowest four involving an individually-based curricular format (see below). The number of levels needed to complete the program is based on initial placement. All students receive in all levels 20 hours per week of intensive English language instruction. At each level above Learning Center (see below), all language skills are treated in a “core” class meeting 10 hours per week. Additional instruction is provided at each level in two 5-hour classes that differ by level, as indicated below.

Instruction for the lowest four levels takes place in a “Learning Center,” which involves students combined in a single cohort studying at various stages of the beginning and elementary stages. The instructor helps each student attain the learning objectives they need to master before graduating to the Advanced English 1 level. Each student progresses at their own speed.

Average class size is 6-7 students, so there is a lot of interaction in each class between classmates and with teachers.

Student Learning Outcomes by Level and Course (PDF) 

Description of each level and course in terms of measurable learning outcomes (also available in the syllabus for each course).

CESL Level Descriptions

Progression Through Program

Level Promotion Guidelines: (Effective October 2021)

The following conditions must be met to pass a level:

Levels* Grade Required**

Category: Learning Center

FE 1
FE 2
GE 1
GE 2
Completion of 80% of learning objectives

Category: Advanced

AE 1
AE 2
80% grade or above in all classes

Category: Academic Preparation

EAP 1 80% grade or above in all classes
EAP 2 80% grade or above in all classes
GSE 80% grade or above in all classes

* All levels can be repeated a maximum of 2 times and can be taken a maximum of 3 times.

**A specific TOEFL score is not required for progression between any two CESL proficiency levels, but it is required that students take the CESL-offered TOEFL ITP in the EAP1, EAP2, and GSE levels, in consideration of the fact that SIU, as do other universities, requires minimum TOEFL scores of 520 and 550 (requirement can vary by school, college, or program) for entry into undergraduate and graduate degree programs, respectively.

CESL Completion Certificate:

Students will receive a completion certificate from CESL after passing all required levels:

  • If your goal is undergraduate studies, you must pass the EAP2 level to receive the certificate.
  • If your goal is graduate studies, you must pass the GSE level to receive the certificate.

Completing CESL does not guarantee admission to SIU. Students must apply and meet all SIU admission requirements (academic and language) to be eligible for admission. Please visit the Center for International Education (CIE) or the Graduate School office website for a complete list of admission requirements.

Length of Study

Starting Level Average Number of Terms for Completion from Level
Learning Center
   (Foundational English 1 & 2,
    General English 1 & 2)

Advanced English 1 4 or 5
Advanced English 2 3 or 4
English for Academic Purposes 1 2 or 3
English for Academic Purposes 2 1 or 2
Graduate Student English 1

On average, students beginning at our lowest levels take 18 months to complete our program.

>SIU Campus


The student advisor plans orientation programs for each CESL term. These sessions explain topics such as safety, academic success, immigration, the opportunities available in Carbondale and SIU Carbondale. Organized extracurricular activities at SIU Carbondale, picnics, and parties are a regular part of life at CESL.


There are many affordable housing options. Explore SIU housing options online. Most students prefer living in student residence halls near campus. The approximate cost of room and board is indicated under the COST tab. 

We would be happy to email you information about housing or we can help you arrange living accommodations when you arrive.


A Certificate of Completion is awarded to students who successfully complete a CESL program at either the undergraduate or graduate level. A Certificate of Attendance can be issued reflecting the actual dates you attended. Transcripts of performance are mailed directly to an institution upon the request of the student. Unofficial student copies are also available.

Customized Programs For Special Groups

Custom-designed English language training programs can be arranged. These programs provide the appropriate English studies for the specific interests and needs of the participants. Any number of participants, length of study and interest area can be accommodated. 

For more information, please write directly to the CESL Director, Bill Hellriegel

Cesl Computer Labs

Students can work in the CESL Computer Labs to improve their skills in English. Our computer labs are equipped with standard and language learning software.

Academic Counseling

You are aided in making arrangements for further academic study in the U.S. by a student advisor.