Program Details

Main Content

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.

Placement and Promotion

Initial course placement into the nine-level program is determined by performance on the Oxford Placement Test and an internal Diagnostics Exam. Promotion within CESL levels is determined based on grades. The Institutional TOEFL is also administered to all students in English for Academic Purposes 2 and Graduate Student English as it is also required for release to full-time university admission.

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.

Foundation English 1 – Beginning level
Foundation English 2 – High beginning level

Instruction helps students develop basic literacy in English, working with the writing and sound systems, becoming able to understand and use basic greetings and descriptions of simple situations. The proficiency developed represents readiness to start developing at the General English 1 and 2 levels emerging productive fluency and basic listening comprehension necessary for basic functioning in the U.S. living environment. Instruction at these levels is in the format of the “Learning Center.”

General English 1 - Elementary level
General English 2 - High elementary level

Instruction helps students build language-learning habits, encourage fluency, promote self-confidence, build receptive language proficiency and provide content for transition to functioning in the U.S. living environment. The proficiency attained represents readiness to start developing basic academic skills in English at the Advanced English 1 and 2 levels. Instruction at these levels is in the format of the “Learning Center.”

Advanced English 1 - Low intermediate level
Advanced English 2 - High Intermediate level

The advanced levels help transition students from using English for basic interpersonal communication skills to using English for cognitive academic language proficiency.

This level transitions students from general English to advanced English by introducing early academic skills, language accuracy, and higher expectations. Courses give students exposure to and practice of receptive and productive language and critical thinking skills; continued building of higher-level receptive skills with explicit attention to study and reading skills, introductory narrative and expository writing. The proficiency developed at these levels represents readiness to start developing the ability to master advanced academic skills in English necessary for success at the undergraduate level, and also the ability to continue to increase overall English proficiency via use of interesting academic content. In addition to the 10-hour core class, classes include 5-hour grammar and listening and speaking courses.

English for Academic Purposes 1 - Low academic level
English for Academic Purposes 2 - Undergraduate preparation level

These levels help students develop their English for academic purposes to succeed in undergraduate and graduate courses at Southern Illinois University and other American universities.

Course content transitions students from learning general English to learning English through content and academic English. Topics include learning and applying study skills and language strategies with a variety of academic-based content; focusing on skill application to learn and remember information for testing purposes; writing and speaking in the expository and persuasive modes, with an introduction to the scientific inquiry process. Proficiency developed at these levels indicates readiness to begin to master academic skills necessary for success at the graduate level, as well as a capacity to continue to develop English proficiency by means of use of academic content at the highest level. In addition to the 10-hour core class, classes include 5-hour Writer’s Workshop and TOEFL Preparation courses.

Graduate Student English – Graduate preparation level

Courses provide students with activities that include library use, summarizing and critiquing articles from professional journals, oral presentations, readings, essay exams, seminar-style discussions and the preparation of reports and graduate level papers in their field of study. Advanced Communication courses focus on building and improving interpersonal interactions, presentation, listening, and pronunciation skills. In addition to the 10-hour core class, classes include 5-hour American Culture and TOEFL Preparation courses.

Progression Through Program

CESL uses a multi-pronged assessment system to determine true language ability and readiness for university study. Some combination of the following criteria is used for each course at each level to determine the overall grade for that course: attendance, participation, homework, presentation/ speaking activities, writing assignments, quiz scores, mid-term test scores, final exam scores, and several other items.

Student progress is evaluated throughout each term and also at the end of it. Each CESL student receives both a midterm progress report and final grade report for all of their courses at their level. An end-of-term grade for the level is given as a single percentage (all course grades combined for one overall grade): An overall score of 80% or above, with no individual class grade below 80%, allows a student to pass the level and graduate to the next level. An overall average of less than 80% or a single course grade of less than 80% requires the student to repeat the level.

Exiting Criteria

CESL students going on to undergraduate study, in order to complete the CESL curriculum, must pass the EAP2 level with a minimum score of 80% in each of their courses, and they must also have attained a TOEFL score of at least 475 or equivalent. CESL students going on to graduate study, in order to complete the CESL curriculum, must pass the GSE level with a minimum score of 80% in each of their courses, and they must also have attained a TOEFL score of at least 500 or equivalent.

Length of Study

Starting Level Average Number of Terms for Completion from Level
Learning Center 5-9
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.

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.