MISSION STATEMENT: The Intensive English Program at Upper Iowa University is committed to academically, culturally, and socially preparing English language learners for successful integration into university classes, campus life, and their community in the United States, leading them to be productive in their chosen fields, and active and respected individuals in a global society.
The IEP is a comprehensive program which includes the following courses: reading, grammar, writing, listening/speaking, and American culture. These five courses are equivalent to 20 hours of in-class studying per week. Upon arrival to Upper Iowa, students have a placement exam that assesses which ESL courses they will take.
As part of the American culture course, students are encouraged to participate in university events and clubs to encourage involvement in campus life. Also, students participate in frequent field trips and service learning opportunities to expand their understanding of American culture, the English language, and global citizenship. Some of the past field trips and university activities have included:
- Niagara Cave
- Weekend in Chicago
- Corn Maze and Cook-outs
- Black Hawks hockey game
- Iowa State Capital
- UIU International Cultural Night
As part of the Listening/Speaking course, students have the chance to visit undergraduate classes in order to self-assess their language readiness for undergraduate studies.
Depending on placement exam results after arrival to campus, a student is placed in the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. If placed in the beginner level, a student typically needs three 16-week semesters to complete the Intensive English program. If placed in the intermediate level, a student typically needs two 16-week semesters (one academic year) to complete the Intensive English program. If placed in the advanced level, a student typically needs one 16-week semester to complete the Intensive English program. At times, a student may need to repeat a level, but repeating a level can only happen one time at each level.
Before progressing to the next level, students' midterm and final exams must average to a 70% for each of their five courses and their final course grade in each of the five courses must be a grade of 'C' (73% - 76%) or better. Two other key items for consideration when promoting a student to the next level is the student's writing samples and class attendance.
When students meet all of the necessary requirements for completion of the Intensive English program, they are given a certificate of completion and considered for admission into undergraduate studies at Upper Iowa. They do not need to take the TOEFL iBT or IELTS exam.
A list of courses and the course descriptions for each level are below.
ESL011 Reading I - Reading skills development is the focus for this course. Students have short readings on a variety of topics to work on finding meaning in context, reading comprehension, identifying main ideas and significant details, retelling stories, and scanning for specific information. As students read out loud, they practice sounding out words and using correct pronunciation. Through vocabulary instruction and academic reading, students begin building high frequency vocabulary necessary at the undergraduate level. Through the act of extensive reading, students improve reading fluency. An introduction to both the university and community library is made.
ESL012 Grammar I - This course will help students become familiar with and comfortably use basic grammatical concepts like parts of speech, verb tenses, modals, count and non-count nouns, coordinating conjunctions, and quantity and degree words. The basic idea of comparatives and superlatives and gerunds and infinitives are introduced.
ESL013 Writing I - Because students are at the initial stage of English writing, they first develop solid sentence structure and then move to paragraph writing. As students are introduced to the paragraph and the process of writing (brainstorming, preparing a first draft, revising, editing, and publishing the final product), they are also introduced to graphic organizers that help them organize their ideas for writing. Students learn and practice writing a paragraph with its different parts: a topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding statement. Students learn the importance of good punctuation in writing. To enhance students' writing, students learn the different spelling rules. This course will prepare students for the intermediate Intensive English writing course.
ESL014 Listening/Speaking I - This course is designed to help students begin speaking in different scenarios, feel more comfortable while speaking, and speak more often. Students are given speech patterns as a foundation for their speaking. Listening is a large component to dialogue, so students will practice listening comprehension through identification of significant details. They will also be given strategies for checking understanding. Distinguishing close sounds will be practiced such as with numbers and contractions. Body language is studied as a way for students to potentially determine meaning in conversation. To improve pronunciation, students work with American Speechsounds software on individual phonetic sounds. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is introduced to assist with pronunciation learning. The connection between pronunciation and intonation is introduced.
ESL015 American Culture I - This course will assist Intensive English students in improving their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills through the exploration of American culture. Students gain an understanding of how Americans interact and do things. They learn how to effectively communicate around town and on campus. Culturally appropriate behavior within the context of an American community and university is learned. Service learning is conducted at local destinations such as convalescent homes and public schools to better understand culture within these places and increase students' sense of global citizenship. Field trips focused on American culture and history are frequently taken to give students practical exposure and experience. Involvement in campus life is encouraged to help students begin using their English outside of the classroom in natural settings.
ESL021 Reading II - This reading course complements ESL023 Writing II with emphasis on recognizing and detecting the writing devices and grammar that make text understandable for readers. The students learn such strategies and skills for recognizing main ideas and supporting details; getting meaning from context; skimming for main ideas; summarizing; drawing conclusions; and building vocabulary. Pronunciation, intonation, and decoding are focused on in the context of reading. Students begin putting ideas together from readings, and sharing them with the class. The students do extensive reading to build reading fluency. An introduction to undergraduate textbooks is made to begin helping with adaptation to undergraduate studies and the advanced reading course (ESL031).
ESL022 Grammar II - Students will begin examining grammar academically in relationship to speaking, reading, and writing. After reviewing present and past verb tenses, perfect tenses are practiced. Previously learned grammar concepts such as count and non-count nouns, the definite article, modals, the future, prepositions, comparatives and superlatives, and gerunds and infinitives will be looked at more thoroughly. Students become familiar with and comfortable using new grammar concepts related to pronouns, adverbs, and phrasal verbs. The dependent clause is introduced on a sentence structure level. Students begin looking for patterns in grammar.
ESL023 Writing II - In ESL023 Writing II, students move from paragraph writing to short essays of different genres. They learn how to present information into a well-organized format according to U.S. academics, which puts emphasis on the thesis statement and transitional expressions. Graphic organizers and concept maps are used to help students brainstorm and organize their thoughts. In order to help the students navigate the writing process; they prewrite, prepare first drafts, revise, edit, and publish their work. Through this process, students begin applying their grammar knowledge, enhance vocabulary, focus on mechanics, and improve spelling. Students move from primarily using simple sentences to predominantly using compound and complex sentences. This course will prepare students for the advanced Intensive English writing course.
ESL024 Listening/Speaking II - ESL Listening/Speaking II will assist Intensive English students in improving their academic listening and speaking skills through the observation and exposure to a variety of authentic listening and speaking situations - radio programs, songs, discussions, role play, real life occurrences, and speeches. Students have the opportunity to observe undergraduate courses in order to begin self-assessing their academic listening skills and gain exposure to the undergraduate classroom. To improve pronunciation, students work with American Speechsounds software on phonetic sounds at word level. The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is reviewed to assist with pronunciation learning. The study of intonation complements the students' study of pronunciation.
ESL025 American Culture II - Students will explore the foundation of the United States' history, government, and culture through the integration of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This foundation will prepare students for a deeper study of American culture and values in ESL035 American Culture III. Service learning is conducted at local destinations such as convalescent homes and public schools to better understand culture within these places and increase students' sense of global citizenship. Field trips focused on American culture and history are frequently taken to give students practical exposure and experience. Students begin to be kept accountable for getting involved in campus events and clubs to gain an improved understanding of campus life and more thoroughly enjoy it.
ESL031 Reading III - This course prepares the students for undergraduate academic reading. The students learn how to write longer summaries, critically analyze text, and develop context specific vocabulary. Students will also be taught such skills as recognizing topic sentences, supporting details, and the outline used in paragraphs and essays, as well as getting meaning from context, the significance of punctuation, and the importance of parts of speech. Students begin reading with natural intonation. Students participate in class discussion about what they have read. The students do extensive reading to build reading fluency. A deeper interaction with undergraduate textbooks is conducted in preparation for undergraduate studies. The different parts of an academic journal are learned so students are more prepared for academic research, and they will also learn how to navigate the library for such research.
ESL032 Grammar III - This course prepares students for grammar necessary in the undergraduate classroom. The final past time verb tenses are studied, and a comparison of verb tenses is conducted. There is a more in depth look at modals, pronouns, dependent clauses, and infinitives and gerunds. The new grammatical concept learned in this course is the passive voice. Emphasis is put on the importance of grammar function for academic writing purposes. Students use an online corpus to find grammatical patterns.
ESL033 Writing III - ESL033 Writing III assists students in getting ready for undergraduate writing through application of grammar knowledge, integration of credible sources, development of writing fluency, and discovery of identity as an English writer. Students are exposed to different kinds of writing styles and genres, but will primarily focus on essay production.
ESL034 Listening/Speaking III - Students focus on preparing their listening and speaking skills for the undergraduate classroom through participation in a variety of authentic listening and speaking situations— academic lectures, note taking, class discussions, debates, role play, real life occurrences, presentations and speeches. Students have the opportunity to observe undergraduate courses in order to do a final self-assessment of their academic listening skills and readiness for the undergraduate classroom. To improve pronunciation, students work with American Speechsounds software on phonetic sounds at the phrase and sentence level. To become a more natural and fluent listener and speaker; linking, reductions, and emotional expression are studied within the framework of intonation.
ESL035 American Culture III - A higher level of language production is expected of the students as they explore themes of American culture. Students give presentations related to pieces of American culture using pertinent technology. Service learning is conducted at local destinations such as convalescent homes and public schools to better understand culture within these places and increase students' sense of global citizenship, and students in this course take a leadership role on these service learning trips. Field trips focused on American culture and history are frequently taken to give students practical exposure and experience. Students are required to participate in at least one club for full involvement and integration into campus life. At times, guest speakers visit the classroom to shed light on any given topic related to American culture and history.