English as a Second Language (ESL)

Diploma Program


Length Approximately 3 Quarters
Total Credit Hours:   960

All three courses are required for the ESL program:

ESL Beginning 320 hours 16 weeks
ESL Intermediate 320 hours 16 weeks
ESL Advanced 320 hours 16 weeks
Total: 960 hours 48 weeks

ESL Beginning

This course provides beginning learners of English instruction in all language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary.  The student will learn to: achieve comprehension in basic communicative situations; read and understand simple informative materials; write basic sentences and simple pieces of writing; comprehend basic grammatical structures in natural context; develop knowledge of basic vocabulary.

ESL Intermediate

This course provides intermediate English learners instruction in all language skills.  The student will learn to: understand and engage in conversation on everyday topics; read and understand medium-length selections; compose paragraphs and extensive pieces of writing; comprehend complex grammatical structures; develop vocabulary appropriate for academic tasks.

ESL Advanced

This course provides advanced learners of English instruction in all language skills.  The student will learn to: engage in ordinary conversation; read and comprehend academic texts; compose advanced pieces of writing; analyze grammatical structures in academic settings; develop knowledge of advanced-level vocabulary.


ESL Program Objective

The School of Languages seeks to develop individuals through the promotion of learning by students and by faculty.  The transmission of knowledge is central to preparing students with the attitudes, skills, and habits of lifelong learning and leadership skills, enabling them to be a useful member of the global society.

The School of Languages intends to judge itself by the most demanding standards to attract people of great ability from all backgrounds and provide the infrastructure to support teaching, scholarship, and service for present and future generations.

The English as Second Language (ESL) courses at Sierra States University are programmed to educate and inform students from basic to advanced English language skills.

Sierra States University’s School of Languages expands the educational efforts of the university and equips students with the knowledge, skills, and ideas for living and working successfully in an international world of rapid social and technical change.


Sequence and Frequency of Lessons or Class Sessions

Each Program Level (Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced) last 16 weeks. Classes meet for four hours per day and 20 hours per week (M-F), for a total of 960 hours per year.


All potential students must take a level placement test to determine the proper level to start class.  Students’ skill level are assigned based on placement test results (reading, writing, grammar, listening). ***No standardized tests or licensure examinations are given at the conclusion of this program.

ESL classes: Monday to Friday   9:30AM – 1:30PM, 2PM – 6PM And 6PM – 10PM



Sierra States University uses high-interest themes to integrate speaking, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, reading, and writing. There is a strong focus on both accuracy and fluency. The underlying philosophy of the course remains that language is best learned when it is used for meaningful communication

Classes are designed for overseas students to succeed in American English and is composed of a variety of subjects. Also, requiring them to stretch their English language skills and expand upon prior vocational education in their home countries, helps to prepare students to transfer to U.S. universities or professional employment.


Instructional Mode or Method

The Sierra States University ESL Program believes that English is best learned when speaking and writing skills are combined. All classes are taught in a communicative and interactive way incorporating as much cultural content as possible. Thus the student is learning not only the skills needed to achieve the goal of mastering English, but also the appropriate context in which to use them while living in the United States. We offer intensive, academic-based ESL classes for students, who receive instruction 4 hours per day, 5 days a week.

The classroom activities include intensive discussions of English vocabulary, grammar, varied exercises, and the taking of sample tests in a standard classroom setting: Lecture, Demonstration, Internet, Question and Answer and Practice.


General Teaching Guidelines

  1. Prepare the appropriate number of practice exercises and production activities for the target.
  2. Review the previous days’ material during or immediately following the warm-up.
  3. Outline on the board what is going to be accomplished that day.
  4. Focus on accuracy during the practice exercises and fluency during the production activities.
  5. Summarize what was accomplished in class.
  6. Assign homework to reinforce the target.


ESL Topics Covered / Skills to be Learned

The course covers contemporary, real-world topics that are relevant to students’ lives. Students have background knowledge and experience with these topics, so they can share opinions and information productively. In addition, cultural information stimulates cross-cultural comparison and discussion. Sierra States University’s students’ ability to listen to spoken English, read or write a composition are enhanced through drills, classroom discussions, and exercises. The measurement of the student’s English progress is made each week by means of timed practice tests.



Speaking skills are central focus of Sierra States University’s ESL program. We emphasize natural, conversational language. Discussion, Role Play, and Speaking exercises, as well as activities, provide speaking opportunities that systematically build oral fluency. In addition, conversations illustrate different speaking strategies, such as how to open and close conversations, ask follow-up questions, take turns, and use filler words. Other exercises offer fun, personalized speaking practice and opportunities to share opinions.



Vocabulary development plays a key role in English mastery. Productive vocabulary is vocabulary that students are encouraged to use. Receptive vocabulary is introduced primarily in Readings, and Listening. In Writing and speaking exercises, students typically categorize new vocabulary reflecting how the mind organizes new words. Then they internalize the new vocabulary by using it in a personalized way.



Sierra States University students benefit most from practicing a little pronunciation on a regular basis. Pronunciation focuses on important features of spoken English, such as word stress, intonation, and linked sounds. In each unit, a pronunciation exercise requires students to notice and then practice a pronunciation feature linked to the new grammar or vocabulary.



The listening syllabus emphasizes task-based listening activities and incorporates both top-down processing skills and bottom-up processing skills. Listening exercises for all levels provide focus questions or tasks that give students, a purpose for listening, while graphic organizers such as charts provide note-taking support. Moreover, most Conversations provide follow-up listening tasks. Additional listening practice is provided for homework assignments.



Sierra States University course syllabus reviews and expands on the basic grammar structures by viewing meaning, form, and use as the three interacting dimensions of language. First, students notice the new grammar in context in the Conversations or Perspectives. Second, they learn and practice using the grammar forms in a controlled way. Third, students soon move on to freer tasks that lead toward fluency. Throughout the course, Sierra States University students acquire new communicative competence by using grammar as a means to an end: such as how to introduce themselves, or agree and disagree.



Reading exercises require students to read a variety of text types for different purposes. For example, they skim the texts for main ideas, scan them for specific information, or read them carefully for details. Then they complete exercises that help develop reading strategies and skills, such as inference and guessing meaning from context. They also share and discuss their opinions.



Writing exercises require students to write on a variety of real-world subjects that review the themes, vocabulary, and grammar in each unit. Students typically look at writing models before they begin writing; they use their experiences and ideas in their writing, and then share what they wrote with their classmates.