Overall Goals & Methods
UCAELI classes are student-centered and learning-centered. Because our class size is small (we usually have about 10 students in a class), students get a lot of individual feedback and support. Teachers work with each group of students according to their specific needs. We prioritize creating positive and supportive classroom communities where students have many opportunities to contribute their ideas and opinions and make choices about what they want to read, write, listen to and talk about. We help students develop strategies for learning English independently so that they can continue to build their language skills over their lifetime.
Communicative activities increase students’ confidence and competence in all skill areas. Interactive activities include partner and small group work, discussions, role-plays, debates, and student presentations. Native English speakers who are UConn students, staff and community members join a weekly Communication Skills class as conversation partners. Readings of authentic texts from literature, academic sources, and the media generate topics for written and oral response. To support learning by doing, classes provide students with opportunities to create and share their work through video, websites, journals, research papers, or dramatic performances. Each semester offers a variety of courses with interesting topics and hand-on projects.
Focus on Culture
Learning about the cultures of the U.S. is supported by special activities including field trips on and off campus, interviews with native speakers, visits to local museums and galleries, participation in the conversation partner program, auditing of UConn classes, and community service. Student involvement in the UConn community is highly encouraged and supported by UCAELI teachers and staff through many different activities.
Developing intercultural understanding is an important goal. The number of countries represented by UCAELI students in an average session is 17. Taking advantage of the diversity of each group of UCAELI students, course work often focuses on exploring culture. Community building activities during orientation help students get to know each other.
Digital Portfolios and Technologies for Language Learning
Each UCAELI student in the Intensive English Program creates a digital portfolio that is built upon each session. Students add examples of their best work in different UCAELI courses. Portfolios are used for assessment of student proficiency and can be used by students throughout their academic and professional careers.
Technologies support language learning in UCAELI classrooms. We make use of Smartboards, video, iPads, even cell phones with innovative methods to help students develop digital literacies that enhance their language skills.
English for Academic Purposes and General English Options
For students with conditional admission to UConn and those planning to attend other schools in the U.S., the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses are designed for students with high intermediate to advanced English skills. EAP courses are taken during the morning and students select elective courses for the afternoon. The General English option is for students of all levels from beginner to advanced who want to focus on communicating, reading and writing in all contexts.
Course Levels and Student Evaluation
For each Core Course there are five to six levels ranging from beginner to advanced. A student completes a level when mastery of the level objectives has been achieved. Each level is designed to be completed in 15 weeks. Student placement and assessment testing is conducted at the beginning and end of each session. An official transcript is available by self-access through the online Student Administrative System (PeopleSoft) at the end of each session. UCAELI awards a certificate for satisfactory completion of each session of the Intensive English Program. A Proficiency Certificate may also be attained by qualified students.
The EAQUALs proficiency descriptor scale (an adaptation of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)) is used for placement and ongoing assessment.
Full-Time Study and Average Length of Study
Students have 22 hours of classroom instruction per week. The program is designed to improve students’ overall language proficiency. Students’ motivation, study skills and previous language learning experience affect the speed of progress. For students preparing for academic work, the average length of study is 15 – 30 weeks for an intermediate student and 40 – 80 weeks for a beginner.
Note: A full course of study in UCAELI’s IEP is defined as 22 hours per week. Students on an F-1 student visa are required to maintain a full course of study.