Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Enrollment Guidelines for English as a Second Language (ESL) Classes at UIUC

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

  1. The General Writing Course Sequence (ESL 113, 114 and 115 for undergraduate students and ESL 500, 501, and 502 for all others). Note: successful completion of ESL 115 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 TOEFL score.

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 still 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. Appearing on the roster may trigger tuition charges.

The balance of this document explains particular concerns regarding placement into each category of ESL classes. 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 Sun Joo Chung (, ESL Placement Advisor).  

ESL Placement Procedures for General Writing Courses (ESL 113, 114 and 115 for undergraduate students and ESL 500, 501, and 502/503 for all others)

Category (1) Above

The preferred method of entry to the general writing courses is via the EPT, because it allows the most accurate means to meet the student’s needs.

For more information about registering for the ESL service courses, visit or contact Susan Ahmed (, Writing Courses Coordinator)

Placement Procedures for ESL 110/510 – the General Oral Course

Category (2) above

EIL 110/510 was designed for students who are required to take it by the EPT. These students are given highest priority for enrollment.

Students who are recommended to take the course (based on the EPT results), and whose departments or advisors want them to take the course, are given next highest priority.

The third priority is given to students who took the EPT and were exempted from 110/510 (based on EPT results)and to elective students who have not taken the EPT.

An elective student must take the EPT prior to enrollment. The student need only take the oral interview component of the EPT. The results of the EPT Oral Interview are used in ESL 110/510 for several important assessment purposes.

No student – required, recommended, exempted, or elective – may register or preregister for any section of ESL 110/510. Instead, each student attends the preferred section from the first day and continues attending while the section is constituted on the basis of the priorities above. This will assure that the student is present for subsequent in-class diagnostic assessment and, if ultimately allowed to enroll, will not be behind in course work. Students allowed to enroll may register for the section when authorized to do so by the section instructor. Enrollment is closed after the third day of class.

For further information, please contact the supervisor of ESL 110/510, Wayne Dickerson(

Placement Procedures for the International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Courses (ESL 504 & 506)

Category (3) above

Enrollment in the ITA courses is open to international graduate students only. Visiting Scholars and Post-Docs may not enroll in the ITA courses.

Students do not need to take the EPT, SPEAK or TSE to enroll; however, SPEAK and TSE scores are beneficial to help decide whether students can remain in the class, as described below. Students may register using Banner until the first day of the semester. Students who do not or are not able to enroll before the semester begins should attend the class and section of choice on the first day it meets. Students will be placed on a waiting list and may be able to enroll as space becomes available. Priority will be given to current and potential teaching assistants. Enrollment closes after the third class period.

Guidelines for selecting the appropriate ITA course

  • ESL 504: SPEAK or TSE score of 40 or below. Or no SPEAK/TSE score. Or previous completion of ESL 506.
  • ESL 506: SPEAK or TSE score of 45 or higher. Or previous completion of ESL 504.

For further information, please contact the ITA course coordinator, Patti Watts (