English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

ESOL Curriculum/ APP Courses

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 orientation necessary for success at the university level.

Integrated 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. (The two most advanced levels, ESL 103 and 104 target reading and writing needs of Admissions Pathway Program students).

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. (The two most advanced levels, ESL 101 and 102 target writing and editing needs of Admissions Pathway Program students).

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 culture. 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 conversation and short presentations and listening comprehension strategies and skills.

ESL College Writing 

(4 hours per week)

ESL 100 is a special section of ENG 100 College Writing. This highly advanced-level, 3-credit course has been designed for non-native speakers of English who have met USM pre-college writing proficiency requirements either through ESL 104 and 102 or through official assessments.  Drawing upon college-level readings and classroom discussions, and skills obtained in previous courses/studies, students will expand and sharpen the writing and study skills necessary for college-level academic courses. This course is the final writing course in the APP sequence.

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) 780-4365; Fax: (207) 780-4933; usmesol@maine.edu