Southern Illinois University Carbondale


SIU: Developing Innovative ESL Programs Since 1966

At the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU), students have the unique benefit of learning English on campus, just steps from the student center and the main library. The CESL offers five 8-week sessions throughout the year with levels ranging from foundation English to graduate student English. There is also a 3-week summer program focusing on language and culture. Students have access to computer labs, tutors, a skills center, and may even pair up with a practice buddy through the Conversation Partners program.

If There’s a Need, The CESL Will Fill It

For nearly 50 years, the CESL has led the way in ESL programming for all types of students. Recently, the center has broadened its reach to include teacher training programs and ESL programs for businesses and organisations.

CESL Director Cheryl Ernst described the broad range of offerings at the center, “We have been asked to offer nursing courses, which we have designed. We can customize content to match whatever area is needed.” In fact, CESL and the Office of Economic and Regional Development have just inaugurated its new initiative, Business Language and Culture Exchange (BLACE). This program is targeting businesses that wish to improve the English language of their employees in a professional context.

On campus, the center offers students nine proficiency levels of ESL. Classes at the CESL are meant to be challenging yet fun. “During the academic year, we focus on social skills and academic performance. During our three-week short-term summer program, we have culture classes; focused classes; community building; research training; and grammar through editing, cinema, and cooking classes. There’s a lot of culture and a ton of language in cooking,” explained Ms. Ernst.

A Thriving Community

One of the first US universities to admit international students, Southern Illinois University is home to students from over 100 countries and even boasts a Brazilian café. Bordered by a large national forest and several lakes, students enjoy a plethora of outdoor opportunities such as hiking, camping, and fishing. For those interested in exploring beyond the Carbondale area, nearby cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville provide easily accessible weekend getaways.

Transferring to SIU

Students who successfully complete the final level of English at the CESL often continue on to academic programs at SIU. As a major public research university, SIU offers over 300 academic degrees, including aviation management (SIU even has its own airport!), agriculture, engineering, nursing, and an AACSB-accredited business school. The university is excited to welcome international students to enroll in one of the CESL programs or full degree programs (for those who already have strong English language skills).

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