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FAQ

Questions asked by undergraduate students:

Must I take ESL004 before taking ESL015?

No. There are no prerequisites for ESL015. On some PSU campuses, a remedial ESL writing class, ESL004, is offered. If you place into ESL004, you must earn a C or higher in that class in order to be allowed to enroll in ESL015. The remedial ESL004 class is not currently offered at University Park campus.

What is the difference between ESL015 and ENGL015?

ESL015 is specifically designed to support the linguistic and cultural needs of international students who are new to the American system of higher education. The writing assignments include important genres for college writing (definition; comparison/contrast; bibliography; problem/solution) and the class introduces and practices basic academic literacy skills such as using online databases, in-text citations, referencing, and academic integrity. ENGL015 is a class designed for first-year student writers whose first language is English and/or students who have studied at an American high school.

How do I know if I should take ESL015 or ENGL015?

Appropriate placement can be aided by using the placement rubric. Students who grew up speaking a language other than English at home but who attended an English-speaking or American high school may prefer to enroll in ENGL015.

What other ESL classes are offered at Penn State?

Occasionally, ESL classes for second- and third-year undergraduate students are offered through the ESL/EAP program. Check the current Schedule of Courses for these classes.

ESL classes numbered ESL115G, 117G, and 118G are offered on a regular basis to graduate students who are preparing to become Teaching Assistants. If you would like more information, please visit the ITA Program webpage.

After I take ESL015, must I take ENGL015?

No. You may take either ESL015 or ENGL015, not both. ESL015 fulfills the same General Education credit that ENGL015 fulfills. After completing ESL015, you must take a writing class on the 200-level. You will find a list of such courses at the Department of English at http://english.la.psu.edu/undergraduate/courses.

How do I register for the tutorial ESL005?

Registration for ESL005 must be done by contacting the Director of ESL/EAP via email (Dr. Deryn Verity, dpv3@psu.edu) during the first week of classes each semester. Your ESL015 instructor will provide exact instructions on the first day of class.

May I enroll in both ESL005 and ENGL005?

No. You may enroll in only one tutorial class. Both classes have limited space available and require registration to be completed through a specific process. Your writing instructor will provide exact instructions on the first day of class. 

May I use the services of the Writing Center?

Yes. As a Penn State undergrad, you may make appointments with peer tutors and use the drop-in services at Penn State Learning Writing Center for help with writing, math, or other study skills.

 

Questions asked by graduate students:

 

Is ESL116G required for all international graduate students?

No. ESL116G, Academic Composition in the Disciplines, is an optional class for most graduate students. However, your advisor or your department may require you to take this class if your writing skills in English need improvement. -- If you have been provisionally admitted because of low TOEFL scores, you may be required to enroll in ESL116G.

Is ESL114G required for all international graduate students?

No. ESL114G, American English for Academic Purposes, is an optional class for most graduate students. However, your advisor or your department may require you to take this class if your speaking or pronunciation skills in English need improvement. -- If you have been provisionally admitted because of low TOEFL scores, you may be required to enroll in ESL114G. 

Why should I take an academic writing class as a graduate student?

Many students find that the intensive focus on rhetorical control, technical vocabulary, and advanced academic literacy helps them complete various important assignments and requirements such as candidacy exams, comprehensive exams, conference proposals and presentations, and the dissertation. 

I need to practice daily conversation skills; is ESL114G a good class for me?

Perhaps. ESL114G is NOT a conversation class, but you will get instruction in pronunciation, communication for academic purposes, and task-based practice in a variety of speaking skills. Many students find that this class boosts their confidence in using spoken English in various academic and non-academic contexts.

 

Questions asked by advisors and instructors:

 

How can I help a student choose between ESL015 and ENGL015?

Use the placement rubric. Most international students should be advised to take ESL015 unless they attended an English-medium high school or an American high school, in which case ENGL015 may be more appropriate.

What are the major assignments in ESL015?

Students are required to complete four major writing assignments, and a wide variety of shorter informal and journal assignments. The major assignments include an Extended Definition; a Comparison/Contrast essay and poster presentation; an Annotated Bibliography (in preparation for the final essay); and a Problem/Solution research essay, plus a final oral presentation. 

Does the university policy on academic integrity apply to ESL students?

Yes. All ESL classes include instruction and practice on how to avoid plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Instructors are required to include the College and University Academic Integrity policies on every syllabus and to help international students become familiar with the expectations of the American university towards academic integrity.

How can I learn more about the assignments and expectations of ESL015?

You may contact the Director of the ESL/EAP program (Dr. Deryn Verity, dpv3@psu.edu) or you may want to consult the Instructor Handbook.

Are there specific sections of ESL015 designed for students of different majors?

Not currently; the development of discipline-specific ESL015 sections is currently under development.