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The program follows the innovative, effective, and non-traditional Focal Skills Approach to second language acquisition. The Focal Skills method was developed 25 years ago and is used by many universities around the world to prepare students for university-level study in English. Focal Skills has been shown to work more quickly than traditional methods.

Special Features

  • Sequential Skill Development: All students enrolled in the Intensive English Program (IEP0 are given an initial assessment of English language ability upon arrival. Based on their performance on this assessment, students are then placed in one of the four learning modules. In each module, students dedicate their time each day to the development of a particular language skill: listening, reading, or writing in that order, with a fourth (advanced) module dedicated to college preparation.
  • 4-Week Learning Modules: At the end of each 4-week course block, students re-take the assessment for that particular language skill. Based on their score, students are either moved on to the next learning module during the next course block (for example, from the listening module to the reading module) or they repeat the same learning module for more practice and development of that particular language skill.

Students remain in a given learning module (listening, reading, writing, or advanced) for as long as needed to develop sufficient proficiency as indicated by a passing score on the assessment – usually from 1 to 4 months. In this way, students develop their English language ability based on a solid foundation of previously acquired skills. Students may also skip a module or modules if their assessment score indicates that additional focus on that language skill is not necessary.

Departmental Requirements

Exiting the Program

Students remain in the IEP until they can demonstrate via their listening, reading, writing and speaking performance that they are ready for rigorous academic study in English. A combination of formal standardized testing, student grades and informal assessment is used to determine student readiness to begin academic study.

Focal Skills Assessments and Grading

Upon arrival and at the end of each 4-week block, all students’ English proficiency is assessed using one or more standardized assessments. These tests are used to determine placement within the IEP and to determine when students are ready to progress to the next Focal Skills module. Scores on these tests do not contribute to student grades, which are based primarily on participation, attendance and homework completion.

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