English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

ESOL Curriculum

The Intensive English Language Program (IELP), located on the Portland campus, is designed to meet the English Language needs of international students whose first language is not English and who wish to study at USM or other universities in the United States. The primary focus is to help students improve their skills in academic reading, writing, speaking and listening. The program also focuses on study skills and provides the cultural orentation necessary for success at the university level.

Intergrated into the course work are computer skills, authentic reading materials, journal writing, essay writing, group work, pair work, field trips to places of local interest, interviews with native English speakers, pronunciation practice and TOEFL preparation.

All IELP classes are taught by qualified faculty with at least a Master's Degree. Because all classes are small (8-15 students), each student receives individualized attention. All instruction is based on learning English through communicative teaching approaches and classes are highly interactive.


Reading, Writing, and Vocabulary

(6 hours per week)

This academic English language course focuses on helping students produce grammatically accurate, well-constructed, coherent English in the written form and in response to authentic reading. Emphasis is placed on vocabulary extension, idiom, and reading skills.

Reading and Speaking Fluency

(6 hours per week)

This course focuses on helping students improve their speed and comfort in both speaking and reading. Students learn techniques for reading faster and understanding more of what they read. Diverse and authentic materials are used in this class. Students also learn interview and presentation skills; all students carry out interviews with local citizens.

Grammar and Writing

(4 hours per week)

This academic English language course focuses on building a strong grammatical foundation in the English language with an additional emphasis on editing skills and using these skills to produce short pieces of writing and oral presentation.

Oral Communication and US Culture (Listening and Speaking)

(4 hours per week)

This newly redesigned course focuses on helping students speak and understand the English language better- with a focus on important topics in US cuture. Students will explore topics such as cultural awareness, American slang and formal communication, and academic culture via videos, guest speakers, and short readings and discussion activities. Emphasis is placed on oral production in coversation and short presentations and listening comprehension strategies and skills.

TOEFL Preparation

(2 hours per week)

This optional ESOL evening course will focuses on preparing advanced-level students to take the Computer Based TOEFL examination which is offered at the nearby Sylvan Learning Center. Emphasis is placed on learning strategies for taking the test, timing, types of questions, grammatical content, writing samples, and speed reading. A practice test is given towards the end of the course. NEW: this course will be taught in conjunction with the Professional and Continuing Education Program here at USM.

Pronunciation for Non-Native English Speakers

(1.5 hours per week)

This NEW optional ESOL evening course will focus on helping students better articulate and produce the sounds of the English Language in order to improve communication skills and comfort level at work, in classes, and in the community. This course will be taught in conjunction with the Professional and Continuing Education Program here at USM.

Levels of Proficiency

The following three levels of English are offered at the Intensive English Language Program:
1. Higher Elementary/Lower Intermediate: TOEFL 97 CBT/32 iBT to 123 CBT/42 iBT
2. Intermediate: TOEFL 123 CBT/42 iBT to 157 CBT/55 iBT
3. Higher Intermediate/Advanced: TOEFL 157 CBT/55 iBT to 213 CBT/80 iBT

On the first day of class, all students are given the Michigan Placement Test, a writing sample and an informal interview to determine the level of proficiency. Students are placed in classes accordingly.

The IELP is unable to provide instruction for absolute beginners of English.



The University of Southern Maine provides extensive computing facilities in the two computer centers on the Gorham and Portland campuses, and in the residence halls where they have access to both Macintosh and IBM computers, software applications, laser printers and the Internet. The Res-Net program also provides Internet access to dormitory students who bring their own computers.

IELP students are given e-mail accounts upon arrival as well as basic instruction in word processing and the internet, all of which they are required to use as a part of the ESL classes


IELP, University of Southern Maine, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04014-9300, USA        (207) 780-4419; Fax: (207) 780-4933; usmiep@usm.maine.edu

Spring 2016 Intensive English Language Program

USM ESOL Students snowshoeing at Pineland

Program Dates: January 12 - May 8, 2016

  • High quality Instruction
  • Small multicultural classes
  • 22 hours of instruction per week
  • Student visa assistance available
  • Student housing available

Registration still open for local students: participate in full program, or single course!

For information about spring 2016 program, please click here

(The application deadline for visa-seeking international students has passed, but there is plenty of time to apply for our summer program!)

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