Program Details | CESL | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Altgeld Hall

Program Details

The Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) is a unit of the Department of Linguistics on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is staffed by members of the University faculty. The Intensive English Language Program at CESL is open to prospective University students, professionals, and others who want to learn English as a second language in an immersion and intensive community.

The reasons to study English at CESL are many. In addition to intensive English instruction, CESL students benefit from the central location of CESL on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. SIU is a large, comprehensive, public university with over 17,000 students. CESL is housed in Faner Hall, which lies only a few steps from Morris Library and the Student Center.

Program Details

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 HERE. The terms begin in August, October, January, March, and June, making a total of 5 enrollment periods for the year.

Intensive English

There are seven graded intensive courses which meet from 20 hours per week. All language skills are combined with addtitional instruction in English grammar, pronunciation, speaking, listening, reading, and writing which are offered from beginning through undergraduate levels of study. Class sizes are small 15 students so a lot of interaction between teachers and other classmates happens. CESL also offers customized programs for special groups. See a description of CESL levels here.

Graduate Student English

Graduate-school bound students who have completed CESL levels may enroll in a course specifically designed for their needs. Students participate in activities involving oral reports, research papers, critical reviews, and specialized readings associated with the individual student's major field of study are planned.

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.

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. 

Length of Study

Starting Level

 Average Number of
Terms for Completion

General English 1 and 2

5 or 6

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


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

Academic Counseling

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


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.


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.

Description of CESL Classes

Students enrolled at CESL receive 20 hours per week of English language instruction, depending placement:

General English 1 – Beginning level

General English 2  - High beginning level

Courses help 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.

Advanced English 1 – Low intermediate level

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. 

Advanced English 2 – High Intermediate level

This level transitions students from general English to advanced English by introducing early academic skills, language accuracy, and higher expectations.

English for Academic Purposes 1 – Low academic level
English for Academic Purposes 2- Undergraduate prep level

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 and introduction to the scientific inquiry process. 

Graduate Student English – Graduate preparation course

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.