Learning a second language is an active process. In courses at the English Language Academy, students combine in-class study with related, hands-on experiences in the community.
For example, when ELA students study pronunciation, they will practice by reading short poems and stories to young children in community programs. When ELA students learn how to write university-level research papers, they will conduct interviews as part of the research process. Students will attend campus musical and theatrical performances and discuss the events with their classmates. Students will learn a lot about U.S. culture and life by studying English and practicing it in meaningful ways.
During student orientation, students take the International Test of English Proficiency (iTEP) placement test in Listening, Grammar and Reading. They also have an oral interview and sit a writing test. Based on the results of assessment, students are placed in the appropriate level.
A student's length of study in the English Language Academy at UW-Whitewater will depend upon which level he or she enters the program at following placement testing. Students starting intensive English studies at the beginning level of the English Language Academy typically develop sufficient proficiency to begin academic work after three to four terms in the ELA. Intermediate students usually require one to two terms, and advanced students normally require one term. The duration of intensive English study required for an individual student varies depending on personal motivation for developing English abilities, level of proficiency, and aptitude for language acquisition.
The ELA offers four levels of instruction, which are described below.
English 051: Beginning Listening and Conversation. 4 credits. In this course, students develop speaking and pronunciation skills for successful social interactions and practice listening to participate in conversations and to understand recorded information. Students also complete assignments that require them to communicate with members of the local community.
English 053: Beginning Reading. 4 credits. In this course, students develop academic reading skills with a focus on vocabulary development.
English 055: Beginning Grammar and Writing. 4 credits. In this course, students learn fundamentals of English grammar through meaningful writing activities. Students will write expository paragraphs, personal stories, poetry and skits to share with other students in the ELA.
English 061: Integrated Academic Skills 2. 4 credits. In this course, students practice all language skills as they explore themes related to U.S. society and to university life. Possible themes include the American family, science and technology, and business relationships.
English 063: Academic Vocabulary Development. 4 credits. Students develop academic vocabulary related to themes explored in other Intermediate 1 courses, through readings, music, film and multi-media. In addition, students learn to use internet-based tools to expand their active vocabulary.
English 065: Culture and Conversation. 4 credits. In this course, students improve their speaking skills by actively exploring the university and the community of Whitewater. Students participate in community events, practicing their English while sharing their culture with others.
English 069: Special Topics. 2-4 credits. Special topics courses are developed based on student need or interest. Courses focus on one, major topic, for example, Community in Wisconsin and U.S. Sports & Recreation.
English 071: Integrated Academic English Skills 3. 4 credits. In this course, students practice all language skills as they explore themes related to U.S. society, with a special emphasis on university readiness. Possible themes include the American culture, science and technology, and other topics that help students to develop academic proficiency for university-level study.
English 073: Oral Presentation Skills. 4 credits. In this course, students learn how to make successful oral presentations using programs such as PowerPoint, Prezi, VoiceThread and PhotoStory.
English 075: Pronunciation. 2 credits. In this course, students practice pronunciation of North American English, focusing on accuracy in articulation and intonation for comprehensibility when speaking.
English 079: Special Topics. 2-4 credits. Special topics courses are developed based on student need or interest. Courses focus on one, major topic, for example, TOEFL Preparation, English for Business Communication, and a special travel study, "Becoming the West," in which students travel by van through Minnesota and South Dakota, experiencing first-hand the unique history and landscape of this part of the U.S.
English 161/081: Advanced Academic Reading in ESL. 4 credits. In this course, students learn reading strategies to comprehend college-level reading material and to discuss challenging texts in a collegiate setting.
English 162/083: College Writing in English as a Second Language. 4 credits. In this course, students learn the elements of effective writing for university-level courses, with a focus on organization and grammar. Students also collaborate on a research project which they write up and present.
English 163/085: Introduction to U.S. Culture for International Students. 4 credits. In this course, students critically examine elements of U.S. culture and history in order to develop critical thinking and writing. Topics covered in this course prepare students not only to understand U.S. culture and history itself, but also provide students with essential background knowledge to participate in other university courses that require background knowledge in U.S. culture and history. Topics include U.S. civics and government, the role of religion in U.S. life, immigration, and changes in modern family structure.
English 162/089: Special Topics. 2-4 credits. Special topics courses are developed based on student need or interest. Courses focus on one, major topic, for example, business communications, English for medical professionals, preparing applications for U.S.-based graduate study.
At the ELA, the world is a classroom! Throughout each session, students will take academic excursions-trips and activities, some local and some away from the campus-to learn about culture and to practice language use.