English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)


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 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.


(4 hours per week)

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

Listening and Speaking

(4 hours per week)

This course focuses on helping students speak and understand the English language better. Emphasis is placed on oral production through mini-talks, drama, interviews, and videotaped presentations. Extensive listening is done either in class or in the Language Lab, primarily using the internet and other available resources.

TOEFL Preparation

(2 hours per week)

This course focuses on preparing 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

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

Summer 2015 Intensive English Language Program


Fort Williams PicnicProgram Dates: July 20- August 14, 2015

  • High quality Instruction
  • Small multicultural classes
  • Maine coast excursions
  • Student Visa assistance available
  • Comfortable summer housing options

Application deadline, May 1, 2015

For more information about our exciting summer program and application requirements, please click here.

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