Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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English as a Second Language (ESL) and Service Programs

The Department of Linguistics offers several courses in English to nonnative speakers. An overview of our course offerings is located in the table below. Information on the specific types of classes is contained within the links following the table.

Click here for English Placement Test (EPT) information

111, 112, 115 500, 501, 502, 503, 505
110 510
International Teaching Assistants
- 504, 506, 508
ESL Visiting Scholars - 502, 503 (special sections)

General Enrollment Guidelines for ESL Classes at Illinois

There are three categories of ESL courses at UIUC, at UIUC, administered by the Department of Linguistics:

  1. The ESL Writing Course Sequence (ESL 111, 112 and 115 for undergraduate students and ESL 500, 501, and 502 for all others). Note: successful completion of ESL 115 OR of the 111/112 sequence constitutes fulfillment of the first undergraduate writing requirement (‘Comp I’)
  2. The General Oral Course (ESL 110/510; undergraduates enroll for 110, and all others enroll for 510)
  3. The International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Courses (ESL 504 and 506 – graduate students only)

The General ESL Classes (categories (1) and (2) above) are typically enrolled based on results from the ESL Placement Test (EPT); however, this document outlines alternate enrollment procedures. ITA courses are enrolled as described below.

General Principles for All ESL Enrollments:

If a student is mandated to take the EPT (as stated in the letter of admission), then the results of the EPT determine mandatory courses as part of the student’s course of study. Until the student completes those courses, s/he is on limited admission status. The requirement to take the EPT is made by the Office of Admissions and Records, based on the student's pre-matriculation test scores (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, and for undergraduates, also ACT or SAT) and other application information.  For graduate students, a department may require the EPT even if the campus admissions office does not.

Undergraduate Students: )  International students mandated to take the English Placement Test (EPT) and given an ESL placement must fulfill their English proficiency requirement by taking the two-semester, six-hour sequence of ESL 111 and 112 or the one-semester, four-hour ESL 115 course. International students might also be required to take ESL 110 (Pronunciation). International students not required to take the EPT (exempt based on sufficient TOEFL iBT score) may elect to satisfy the English requirement by taking either the ESL, or Rhetoric, or Communication sequences. Students in this category who wish to take ESL must take the EPT to determine correct placement.

Graduate Students: Satisfactory proficiency in the use of English is a requirement for all graduate degrees awarded at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University. International graduate students who are admitted on limited status because they do not meet these proficiency requirements prior to admission are placed into ESL courses based on the results of the EPT exam. Proficiency can then be certified by the satisfactory completion of a one-semester, level two course (501 or 505) or by taking the two-semester sequence (500, 501). International graduate students may also be required to take ESL 510 (Pronunciation).

If a student is not mandated to take the EPT, s/he may still enroll in ESL courses as an elective, without penalty. The student’s admission exemption from the EPT will be unaffected by any ESL course taken as an elective. However, the EPT is the primary vehicle to determine accurate placement in the general courses (Categories (1) and (2) above). Elective ESL students need to go through the EPT to allow us to properly advise them into ESL coursework.

In a related vein, if a student is not mandated to take the EPT, and if the student does take the EPT anyway, there is no penalty. The student’s admission EPT exemption is maintained.

We accept visiting scholars and post-docs in the general ESL classes (Categories (1) and (2) above), provided that these persons can enroll in the class as described below and appear on the official class roster. Visiting scholars and post-docs should first consult with their home departments to learn if this is feasible and, for writing classes, with the ESL Writing Director. Additional charges may apply.

For more information regarding enrollment into specific ESL classes, please follow the links above to the pages for specific course areas. For further information on the classes, please e-mail the contact persons shown for the particular course categories, below. For information on the EPT, please visit or contact the EPT staff (