2003 English Department External Review Self-Study


TESL Programs at SCSU: An Overview

By James H. Robinson, Ph. D.
TESL Director

TESL programming at SCSU has grown from a tutoring program in 1979 to a set of programs that offer undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to learn to teach English as a second or foreign language and that offer international and resident or immigrant students opportunities to learn English as a second language for very specific academic purposes. The growth of these programs has been in direct response to the needs of the community, the state, the country, and the world for more educational opportunities for future TESL teachers and for ESL students. Landmark events in the development of these programs are listed below:

  • In 1979, a tutoring program was created in response to the immigration of South East Asian people escaping the end of the Vietnam War. A sizable Vietnamese and Laotian population settled in St. Cloud , and the tutoring center was established.
  • In 1986, the first TESL professor was hired in direct response to a 1985 external review of the role of ESL at SCSU, and College level ESL courses were established in response to the language needs of international students at SCSU.
  • In 1992, SCSU received approval from the MN Board of Teaching for a K-12 ESL licensure program in direct response to the need for ESL teachers in Minnesota 's elementary and secondary schools.
  • In 1995, the TESL MA emphasis in English was approved in response to the growing number of graduate students seeking this type of degree at SCSU.
  • Since 1995, TESL programs have had eight years of contracts totaling more than $1,000,000 for ESL language services.
  • In 1997, the Intensive English Center (IEC) was established to generate teaching assistantships for future ESL teachers seeking credentialing through graduate education.
  • In 1997, we exported our TESL MA program to Costa Rica for a cohort of 25 TEFL teachers in response to a request for an international development project in TEFL education.
  • In 2002, ESL teachers became the newest import to the US as five of our international graduate students gained ESL employment in U. S. elementary and secondary schools.

TESL programming at SCSU includes five distinct but interlocking components. Essentially, the main mission of TESL programs at SCSU is to produce K-12 ESL teachers in an attempt to meet the demand for 250,000 new ESL teachers in the US . This job market brings SCSU students who enroll in our graduate and undergraduate TESL programs. The College ESL and IEC programs then produce financial aide that enables our graduate students to be able to afford an education and provide practical ESL teaching experiences that prepares our students for the reality of classroom teaching. Lastly, TESL Programs provides an outreach mechanism through international agreements and contracts. The report that follows will examine each of the five components separately as it always keeps in mind the interdependency of the five programs: 1) the Graduate TESL program, 2) the Undergraduate TESL program, 3) the College ESL program, 4) the Intensive English Program, and 5) TESL Programs.

The TESL Graduate Program: 1989- 2003

The TESL graduate program at SCSU has grown from a one professor program with a few interested English department graduate students in the late 1980s to a medium scale TESL MA emphasis in the English Department. In 2003, we have eight professors from two departments providing about 135 degree seeking students graduate course work in TESL.

The degree program developed slowly in response to student demand.

The first nine students received degrees in English but took most of their course work and wrote theses in TESL. Most of these students enrolled in the program because of some tie to St. Cloud , MN : they either lived here or were international students with relatives here. The next 20 or so students completed their TESL graduate studies through the Special Studies Option at SCSU. Almost half of these students were K-12 ESL teachers studying part-time and seeking career promotion through an MA degree. Beginning in 1995, students were admitted to the TESL MA emphasis. By 1998, we had 30 full-time and ten part-time students. In the last four years, the program has almost tripled its student numbers with no new faculty lines to help meet this increased demand for TESL graduate studies. The key to the growth has been the marketing strategy of providing two programs for the price of one: students are able to complete the TESL requirements for the K-12 ESL license and the TESL MA at the same time. (See Appendix A for data on graduate student cohorts.)

1. Program Quality

The quality of the program can be judged by both quantitative and qualitative data. For the most part, the quantitative data suggest a very vibrant program with a steady growth curve. The qualitative data suggest that the growth curve is getting out of hand.

The numbers suggest that we have a good, solid TESL MA emphasis in the English Department at SCSU.

  • Student numbers have increased rapidly;
  • The average MA degree is completed in three years for all students;
  • The MA degree completion percentage rate is as high as 90%;
  • The job placement percentage is almost 100%;
  • The graduate program passed Board of Teaching approval for the K-12 ESL license;
  • At Midwest TESOL in November 2002, 12 SCSU TESL professors, students and former students were part of ten presentations (See Appendix B); and
  • Our former students who teach ESL at St. Cloud Apollo High School and North Junior High have been singled out by State officials as being exemplary. (See Appendix C for the newspaper article.)

At the same time, two qualitative scans of current and former students suggest that program growth has reduced program quality. Our current students were especially angry about the over-crowding in TESL or Linguistics courses. With some graduate courses double enrolled, these students believed that they were not getting the education that they were promised when they came to SCSU. They also wanted to take more courses that were for graduate students only and fewer courses at the double-numbered level-for both undergraduates and graduates. They wanted courses offered more frequently; they wanted more courses; they wanted more choices of professors for courses; and they wanted more courses offered in the summer.

Our former students who are now teaching in the St. Cloud School District were also asked to review our program. Overwhelmingly, they wanted more K-12 ESL content before they began their teaching. Especially, they wanted more emphasis on curriculum development, teaching materials, and testing at the K-12 level. They also wanted the course material to be specific to the demands of K-12 ESL in the State of Minnesota : including issues related to state standards for ESL students and the use of the TEAE test for ESL students in the state.

While the scans do not report on advising, there is evidence that program advising has also been reduced qualitatively. At SCSU, one faculty member with one-third re-assigned time recruits and advises 135 graduate students. Four years ago, advising was a strength of our program when we had about 50 students in the program. We could recruit students because we spent more time recruiting them, and we retained them because we spent more time advising them. Now, we have almost three times the students but the same amount of time to advise them. Some students are avoiding advising and so end up taking longer to finish their programs than originally intended. Some students enroll in courses that they do not need because they have not sought advice.

Fundamentally, we have two qualitative issues to address: more faculty , and more K-12 ESL input in the program. First and foremost, we need more faculty to offer the courses in our program. We have double-enrolled two courses per semester for the last four semesters in our attempt to meet student demand. We cannot stretch our faculty too much longer nor can we test our students' patience too much longer. Second, we need faculty with K-12 ESL experience. Our Achilles heal is that our faculty do not have the licenses that we offer to our students. While the majority of our students seek degrees leading to licenses in K-12 ESL, not one of our faculty members is licensed to teach K-12 ESL in the United States . This deficiency would be a huge problem if it was not repeated in every TESL teacher education program in the country. Before our recent search was cancelled, we received about 30 applicants but only two of had the credentials for which we advertised: 1) a K-12 ESL license, 2) three years of K-12 ESL teaching, and 3) a Ph. D. in TESL/Applied Linguistics. In short, we desperately need more faculty lines in TESL, and we need new faculty member with K-12 ESL experience in order to improve the quality of the education in TESL/Applied Linguistics.


Admission policies for the TESL MA program follow the general guidelines set forth by the Graduate School . They also include two other provisions: 1) an introductory course in linguistics, and 2) one year of foreign language instruction. These prerequisites are used for both the TESL MA and the K-12 ESL licensure programs. Recruitment is not driven by any advertising/marketing campaign. The program has no brochure or web page devoted to recruitment. The TESL Director merely answers the telephone and more often replies to emails. Recruitment has been successful because of the high job demand for K-12 ESL teachers.

In general, our students come from either very near or very far. They are either stuck in Central Minnesota for some reason or they are international. Our Minnesota students tend to be individuals with international experience such as Peace Corps. Many have taught ESL in some contexts, and they liked it. Now they want to get the credentials to teach English as second or foreign language. We have not been able to recruit many graduate students from outside of the region or the state because our TA stipend and tuition remission program is not competitive with other MnSCU institutions or other universities in the upper Midwest .

Out admissions follow a very strong open access policy. For all practical purposes, we do not discourage students from beginning the TESL graduate program. We admit all applicants and these applicants generally include several conditional admissions for students who do not meet the Graduate School 's academic admission standards. Typically, the students who apply are highly motivated and/or academically strong students who know exactly what they want to get from our graduate program.

We have admitted every international student who has completed his or her application to the TESL MA program at SCSU, and almost half of our full-time students are from other countries. Our international students tend to come to SCSU for one of two reasons: 1) they have a contact in Central Minnesota or 2) we offer them teaching assistantships while some other universities are disinclined to do so. We have had the greatest number of students from China and continue to have significant applications from that country. We have also had a good number of students from Japan . Almost half of these Japanese students were part of the Minnesota State University at Akita . They later transferred to SCSU and completed a TESL program as an undergraduate and then continued their TESL studies at the graduate level. Other students have also come from international contacts. For example, we have had three students from Indonesia who were English teachers at the Lembaga Indonesia Amerika in Jakarta , Indonesia . Additionally, we have had students from the Bahamas , Columbia , Cyprus , Denmark , Germany , Hong Kong , India , Iran , Israel , the Ivory Coast , Korea , Poland , Saudi Arabia , Senegal , Taiwan , Tanzania , and Uganda . Four of these international students were recruited after completing English studies in the Intensive English Center .

Our biggest intake of international students never came to St. Cloud for class. In 1997, as part of the Costa Rican TEFL MA program, a cohort of 25 students was enrolled in a special studies MA in TEFL. Six SCSU professors provide the instruction in Costa Rica using a short course format. Fifteen students have received degrees, and we expect that at least five more will complete the program.

We also encourage non-traditional students to take the program by offering courses in the evening and through ITV and so we now have a large number of part-time students. Many of these part-time students had just been appointed as an ESL teacher in a small district or in a rural district, and they now need to complete the requirements for the K-12 ESL license and so have chosen to complete the program through graduate studies. Others students are laid off K-12 teachers; they want to add the ESL license to improve their marketability and so have chosen to complete this license through graduate studies. One student has completed the K-12 ESL licensure program through ITV course work, and another student will receive his TESL MA degree through ITV courses in May 2003.

Academic Standards

As most of our students seek K-12 ESL positions, our curriculum is closely geared to the academic standards required by the Minnesota Board of Teaching for K-12 ESL licensure. Typically, 24 of the 36 credits for the TESL MA count for the K-12 ESL license. This means that TESL MA students have few elective credits. They typically take six credits of thesis, one required research course, and then three credits of TESL practicum related directly to a teaching assistantship.

Distinctive features of the TESL Graduate program include :

  • Combines TESL MA and K-12 ESL licensure courses in one program;
  • Balances theory and practice;
  • Emphasizes the role of culture in language acquisition;
  • Balances quantitative and qualitative research perspectives;
  • Provides teaching assistantships for international students; and
  • Has open access to students through summer, evening, ITV, and self-paced course offerings.


The curriculum for the TESL MA program tries to provide flexibility in the variety of courses offered within the constraints of the K-12 ESL licensure requirements. (See Appendices D and E.) New faculty members are encouraged to offer topics courses in their areas of expertise to give the curriculum more variety.

The curriculum of the TESL MA emphasis began by combining three courses in TESL/Applied Linguistics and four courses in Linguistics that had been in the English Department before 1989. Since 1993, fourteen new graduate course proposals have been completed and so the curriculum includes twenty-one different courses in 2003: one undergraduate prerequisite (intro to linguistics) and twenty graduate courses. Students in the TESL emphasis also tend to enroll in one of three courses outside of TESL: Computers, English and Pedagogy, Teaching College Writing, or the Advanced Writing Center Practicum.

The curriculum began with a strong reliance on double numbered courses. As these courses enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students, they provided an excellent means of providing the program without incurring major funding increases. As graduate enrollments grew, we doubled the curriculum by adding more graduate only or 600 level classes. With the continued enrollment growth, we will begin the process of doubling our offerings of 600 level courses in the 2003/2004 academic year: either by offering some classes in both Fall and Spring semesters or by adding new alternative topics courses.

For part-time graduate students who are teaching in K-12 ESL positions, an ad hoc graduate education sequence has been designed through cooperation between TESL faculty members in English and secondary education faculty members in Teacher Development. This ad hoc graduate education sequence substitutes graduate education courses for undergraduate courses. Two graduate students with undergraduate majors in TESL but without K-12 ESL licenses have been admitted as Special Studies MA studies in Second Language Education by combining courses from the ad hoc graduate education sequence with TESL graduate courses.

We have also developed and are still processing the approval for a 16 credit Graduate Certificate in TESL (Appendix F.) This certificate was designed for individuals who already have MA or Ph. D. degrees and who would like to add TESL credentials to their resume. Some of these individuals are interested in retirement careers in TESL. Others want to teach ESL in Minnesota community or technical colleges where the requirements are: 1) an MA, and 2) 16 credits in TESL/Applied Linguistics.

Culminating Experience

Two types of activities provide a culminating experience for TESL emphasis students: 1) a thesis or two starred papers, and 2) teaching experience. Typically, TESL emphasis students choose the thesis option for the MA as it is more convenient. Part-time students in particular would rather work at home on a thesis for six credits than take two courses that require commuting. As more TESL emphasis students have received TA assignments in freshman composition, I would predict that more full-time students will choose the starred paper option in the future in order to keep their graduate programs from exceeding the required 36 credits for the MA.

Teaching is also a culminating experience for TESL graduate students. For some students, this experience follows a very traditional path in the form of student teaching. For example, in Fall 2003, six TESL graduate students will complete their K-12 ESL student teaching experience. This experience will come after the students have completed their course work in TESL and Education although before they finish their theses, and so will be a culminating experience through teaching.

For most part-time students, this culminating experience is on the job and is more simultaneous than culminating as they are taking courses at the same time that they are teaching. Administratively, three observation reports from a K-6 ESL supervisor and three similar reports from a 7-12 ESL supervisor will meet the criteria of an equivalent experience for K-12 ESL student teaching. About ten students have completed this student teaching equivalency paper work in addition to their course work and have been awarded K-12 ESL licenses as a result. This simultaneous experience has some advantages over a culminating experience. For these students, the highest complement to a professor is: after every TESL class, I find something to use in my ESL class the next day. This type of comment gives evidence of the direct impact of TESL course instruction on ESL practice in K-12 classrooms and of the advantage to simultaneous TESL learning and ESL teaching.

Another simultaneous experience that has culminating products is the teaching assistantship. The teaching assistantship experiences in College ESL and the Intensive English Center along with the TESL Practicum courses that these students are required to take provide an excellent opportunity for students to practice in the ESL classroom what they learn in their TESL courses.


The professors in the TESL MA program are the strength of the program. The eight faculty members (six from English and two from Teacher Development) have the academic background and the educational experience to provide a top quality TESL program for anyone who wants to teach ESL at any level and in any location. We have lived and taught in Africa, East Asia, Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. We average over 20 years of experience in TESL. The five core faculty members in the English Department (Kim, Koffi, Robinson, Rundquist, and Teutsch-Dwyer) have written or edited seven book length materials, published over 50 articles, and presented over 100 papers in their academic areas.

This faculty group was brought together in direct response to student enrollments in TESL programs. From 1989 until 1990, the English Department hired a new ESL Director (Robinson) and the Department of Teacher Development hired two faculty members (Crawford and Heine) with TESL backgrounds. The English Department then hired a Linguist (Rundquist) in 1991, a second Applied Linguist (Teutsch-Dwyer) in 1995, a third Applied Linguist ( Arent ) in 1997, a second Linguist (Koffi) in 1999, and replaced its third Applied Linguist (Kim) in 2000. Teacher Development had one of its TESL professors depart (Crawford) and replaced him with a Bilingual Education specialist (Serrano).

All but one of these eight faculty members have major responsibilities outside of TESL instruction: one is chair of English (teaches two courses per year), one is the TESL Director (teaching four courses per year), one is the IEC Director (teaches four courses per year), one also teaches in the French Department (teaches four course per year), one teaches other courses in the English Department (teaches two courses per year), and the two Teacher Development professors teach only one course in the program annually. Only one faculty member provides full-time TESL instruction and that faculty member is scheduled to become the College ESL Director from Fall 2004, and so we will lose two courses from the curriculum at that time.

Facilities and Equipment

Technology has allowed us to expand the TESL graduate program beyond the classrooms in St. Cloud . This technological development has allowed open access so that any citizen of Minnesota can become an ESL teacher. We have offered ITV classes since 1998 and typically offer two or three evening classes through this option each semester. For example, in Spring 2003, one ITV class has 14 graduate and one undergraduate students from five sites taking a class along with 34 students in St. Cloud .

Unfortunately, the technology has never worked perfectly. For example, in the above mentioned Spring class, two remote sites cannot hear or see the three other remote sites at any time. Even worse, on one evening, one site was shut down unannounced because of staff meetings that particular evening, another site had visual contact but no audio, and at a third site the student had a time conflict with Parent/Teacher conferences and so could not attend. Videotaping becomes the tech savior. We tape the class, and I then mail the videotapes to the students. ITV students typically complain about the inconvenience and then thank us profusely for providing these courses without the commute. Students in class also complain about the dead time that the tech SNAFUs cause.

Despite these challenges, we will probably continue to offer ITV courses and may even do so internationally with the new Internet 2 technology. Self-paced courses through asynchronous online options may also provide a new means of open access for our students and so reduce our reliance on ITV courses for off-site students.

Our library holdings have been a major challenge to the offering of a graduate program in TESL. We only have four journals and about 25% of the catalogue offerings in TESL/Applied Linguistics available for our students at Learning Resources and Technology Services. In the mid-1990s, students could not have completed theses research without the ERIC collection. While technology has made more research available for our students online, they still need to borrow books from faculty, buy books themselves, or use interlibrary loan procedures in order to prepare literature reviews for thesis research.


Student funding comes from a variety of sources: 1) school districts, 2) TAs, 3) the Multicultural Educator Program (MEP), 4) displaced worker funds (DW), and 5 ) sabbatical leaves. Table 1 provides information about how many students accessed these funds in the 2002/2003 academic year.

Table 1: Student Funding

Source # of Students
School Districts 45
TAs 36
DW 2
Sabbaticals 1
Totals 89

In addition, an unknown number of students are funding completely or supplementing the funding of their education with student loans.

Most funds from School Districts come from salaries for ESL teaching positions under emergency licensing provisions. About half of the ESL teachers in Minnesota are teaching under some form of emergency licensing. These emergency licensed teachers have three years at the most to complete their full licensing. The districts pay them a full teacher's salary and then they complete the course work required for full licensing. Typically, the teachers then receive a promotion when they have completed 30 graduate credits and again when they complete their MA degree.

The other major source of student funding is teaching assistantships. These graduate students teach ESL in the Intensive English Center and the College ESL program, they tutor composition skills for international and Minnesota students in the Write Place, they teach the general education composition course, and they also work in administrative and research positions. In 1989, the English Department had one teaching assistantship in TESL. In Spring 2003, 36 TESL graduate students are on one form of teaching assistantship or another.

Table 2 provides a snapshot of these assistantships from 1998 through 2002.

Table 2: Teaching Assistantships

  1998 1999
IEC 9.5 10 8 8 8 10 10 12 11
CESL 6 10 10 10 10 12 6 9 9
WP 2 1 1 6 6 7 10 3 4
191 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 7
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5
Totals 19.5 21 19 24 24 30 27 30 36

In the early 1990s, College ESL provided the bulk of the Teaching Assistantships.

These assistantship opportunities have grown steadily over time, but they depend very much on enrollments in the Intensive English Center and the College ESL program. The only time that they have declined was after 9/11. In Spring 2002, College ESL assistantships were half of what they were in Fall 2001. While they have rebounded somewhat in Fall 2002 and Spring 2003, teaching assistantship opportunities in College ESL are still fewer in Spring 2003 than they were in Fall 2001.

With the development of the Intensive English Center in Fall 1997, these assistantship opportunities were doubled. As discussed in a separate section, the Intensive English Center provides outside funding for ten or more TAs. Without this source of TA money, the TESL graduate program would be weakened considerably and our ability to produce K-12 ESL teachers for the exploding K-12 ESL market would be diminished considerably.

Teaching assistantships in the Write Place and in English 191 have recently provided another funding source for TESL graduate students. Most of the interaction by students across MA emphases in the English Department has happened through these assistantship appointments. Students from all emphases have assistantships in the Write Place and in English 191 and through the courses required for these assistantships, through the orientation programs for TAs, and through the Supervised Teaching or Tutoring courses, these students interact as colleagues on a regular basis.

These assistantships in the Write Place and in freshman composition have also had a very positive impact on the TESL graduate program. From the early 1990s, one or two TESL graduate students would TA in either the Write Place or in freshman composition. Generally, we would assign new international students to the Write Place, and we found that they were able to learn American academic culture as well as American rhetoric from this experience. The Write Place was also a good experience for those graduate students who have never taught before. The one-on-one tutoring experience was excellent preparation for classroom teaching and helped give the less experienced teacher more confidence when they entered the classroom. From Fall 2000, the number of TESL graduate students in teaching assistantship positions in the Write Place increased considerably, peaked in Spring 2002, and has been reduced to a smaller number in Fall 2002. At that same time in Fall 2002, a group of five TESL graduate students began assistantships in English 191, the general education composition class, and in Spring 2003, this group has grown to seven.

In short, we have actively used every available means to generate funds for our students at SCSU. The overwhelming need for ESL teachers in Minnesota has meant that school districts generate a large amount of student funding by hiring these students as ESL teachers under emergency licensing. Teaching assistantships provide another important source of funding for students, and the IEC is a very good example of a program that supports students funding and also provides an excellent teaching/learning experience for future ESL teachers. Opportunities to TA in the Write Place and in English 191 have provided TESL graduate students with an added educational experience for their resume and also have encouraged interaction between all students in the various MA emphases in English.

2. Program Need

According to the New York Times (See Appendix G), t he US has 5 million K-12 students who need ESL instruction but only 50,000 K-12 ESL teachers for a 1 to 100 ratio. The same article indicated that as many as 290,000 ESL teachers are needed to serve the K-12 ESL population in the US . According to data from the Department of Children, Families, and Learning, Minnesota has about 50,000 K-12 students who need ESL services with about 950 FTE ESL teachers providing ESL instruction for a ratio of about 1 to 50 (See Appendix H for more details).

For Minnesota , in the 12-year span from school year 1989-1990 to school year 2000-2001, the K-12 ELL (English Language Learners) population rose from 10,824 to 44,360. This represents an increase of 410%. In the same 12-year span, the population of all K-12 students in Minnesota schools rose from 721,123 to 845,048: an increase of approximately 15%. For comparison, the national increase for ELL students from school year 1989-1990 to 1999-2000 is 104%. The national increase for all K-12 students during the same period was just under 14%. The percentage of K-12 LEP students is expected to continue its current climb. From school year 1999-2000 to 2000-2001 the rate of increase in reported K-12 LEP students was approximately 20%, while the number of all K-12 students decreased slightly (from 845,800 to 845,048

In Minnesota, as many as 50% of the ESL teachers in the State are teaching ESL under some form of emergency licensing as they gain full licensing through university course work. Additionally, some districts have very high concentrations of students who need ESL services: in the St. Paul District, 40% of the total student population needs ESL services. In other words, as ESL students numbers have increased, we have a large number of under-prepared ESL teachers and in some districts every teacher needs preparation in working with ESL students.

3. Future Directions

For the immediate future, our main goal should be to focus on improving program quality. New hires in the TESL area would be the logical direction toward achieving this goal and relieving the workload problems of over-enrolled classes. But we may also have to cap enrollments in the TESL graduate program to improve program quality.

With or without new faculty lines, we need to increase the K-12 ESL content in every aspect of our program. While our two colleagues in Teacher Development were supposed to provide this input for the program, our current and former students see a strong need for this content throughout the curriculum.

We need more money to fund teaching assistantships. Our students receive $8,000 in stipend and have half of their graduate tuition waived for a full-time teaching assistantship. These provisions are not sufficient to allow SCSU to compete for students outside of central Minnesota , but quite frankly, the money to provide for 100% tuition remission for all graduate assistantships would reduce the total number of teaching assistantships available at SCSU and so could act to reduce rather than to increase TA opportunities at SCSU.

We need to find more teaching assistantship opportunities for TESL MA students. We have more enough qualified candidates for teaching assistantships than we have assistantships in College ESL and the IEC. One strategy suggested by Dr. Marya Teutsch-Dwyer would be to offer English 191 sections for a student population that is half first language users of English and half second language users of English and to staff these sections with TESL MA students.

We need to focus our attention on students who only need to finish their theses to complete their MA degree. About 40% of the students who entered the TESL MA program from 1995 through 1998 have not yet finished their thesis research. In order to maintain, our 90% high graduation rate within seven years, we need to work individually with these students to help them finish their degree so that they can be promoted in their current teaching positions.

We need to continue to explore the use of technology to provide more open access for prospective students. Maintaining open access would be a continuing goal of this program. WebCT and asynchronous online courses may provide a future direction that will help this program reach out to more of the individuals who seek graduate studies in TESL both in the US and in other countries.

At the same time, we would hope that we will still have a few opportunities for professional and programmatic development. We had a very successful outreach program to Costa Rica , and we would like to try another such program. We have had requests for information about such programming from universities in Chile , Japan , and Malaysia , and TESL faculty members have expressed interest in developing these contacts into an international TEFL MA program.

The TESL Undergraduate Program: 1993- 2003

While the English Department has had undergraduate degrees in Linguistics since the 1980s and an ESL minor for K-12 ESL licensure since 1993, few students enrolled in these programs until the late 1990s. The first linguistics BA majors in the 1990s were three Japanese students: the first international students to receive an English Department degree in the history of the institution. One is teaching English in an elementary school in Japan . The two others were transfer students from MSU-Akita and have returned to Japan to pursue non-teaching careers. By 1998, we had ten undergraduate students pursuing the K-12 ESL license through undergraduate studies and in the 2001/2002 and the 2002/2003 academic years, we have had about 30 undergraduates enrolled in this program. While these numbers are small, this program has the potential to exceed the graduate program in number of majors and graduates as well as in credit production in the next decade.

1. Program Quality

This program has only recently begun to produce graduates and so it is very difficult to determine its overall quality. We had 12 students graduate in 2001/2002, and we anticipate 7 more graduates in 2002/2003.

The K-12 ESL license program through the Linguistics BA and the ESL BS minor passed Minnesota Board of Teaching re-licensing in 2001.


Admission procedures for this program follow the normal procedures at the university. Program forms need to be signed by both advisers in the English Department for their TESL course work and by Secondary Education faculty in the Department of Teacher Development for the education sequence course work. In Fall 2002, we had 30 students enrolled in the program: nine international/minority students, six non-traditional students, and fifteen traditional undergrads.

Every year, we also have two or three non-degree seeking English Education exchange students from Akita University in Japan . Since this student exchange began in the 1981, 50 English Education students have come to St. Cloud State and studied ESL and TESL to prepare themselves to become secondary school English teachers in Akita , Japan . Typically, these students complete a full curriculum of the College ESL courses offered at SCSU and then take two or three TESL courses.

Academic Standards

The main purpose of the undergraduate TESL program is to prepare K-12 ESL teachers, but we also have students who pursue this program without the Teacher Development component. Interestingly enough, we have international students in the program who pursue this license, and we have Minnesota students who do not. We also have some students who pursue

B. S. degrees in the Foreign Language for 7-12 licensing and who add the BS minor in ESL so that they would qualify for two licenses. We also have one or two students who seek this degree as preparation for graduate studies in Linguistics.

This program is only one of about 60 undergraduate TESL programs in the United States according the information from the Directory of Professional Programs in TESOL in the United States and Canada , 1999-2001. As with the TESL graduate program, the undergraduate TESL program provides:

  • A balance of theory and practice;
  • An emphasis on the role of culture in language acquisition; and
  • Open access to students through summer, evening, ITV, and self-paced course offerings.


The curriculum has been put together to meet Board of Teaching requirements for content and also to meet MnSCU standards of 128 credits for an undergraduate degree. This task is difficult as students need to take credits as outlined in Table 3:

Table 3: Credits for K-12 ESL Licensing through an undergraduate option
Areas credits credits w/
double counting
General Education 40 40
Linguistics BA 35-39 43
ESL BS Minor 24  
Foreign Language 8 8
Education Sequence 34 34
Total 141-144 125

The only way to complete this curriculum within the 128 credit guidelines is to allow a high degree of overlap between the Linguistics BA and the ESL BS Minor. With a minimum of only eight new credits when a student adds the ESL BS minor to the Linguistics BA, students are able to complete the licensure program in less than 128 credits.

More specifically, the curriculum combines the fields of English Linguistics, Linguistics courses normally offered in English Departments, with TESL/Applied Linguistics course work (Appendix I) that was specially designed for the purposes of the ESL license. All TESL undergraduate students must also complete 34 credits of the secondary education sequence (Appendix J). TESL undergraduates take most of their course work as a cohort, but they do take some courses attended by students in other major emphases. All TESL undergraduate students and English BS majors are required to take one Linguistics course in common in order to complete their respective programs. Additionally, BS majors may take one additional linguistics course as an elective in their program. No other BA emphasis in English requires any Linguistics course work. On the other hand, Linguistics BA students are required to take about 15 credits outside of the Linguistics area.

Students from other majors also take Linguistics and TESL courses that are offered in the English Department. The Department of Communication Disorders, another Applied Linguistics area, has its students take the Introduction to Linguistics in the English Department. The Foreign Language Department BS programs in French, German and Spanish all require the Introduction to Linguistics. In addition, these foreign language students are now taking two TESL/Applied Linguistics courses that focus on teaching methods as part of their degree program. Lastly, in cooperation with the Foreign Language Department, we have designed a joint program. Through this program, Foreign Language BS students will be able to add the ESL BS minor and still graduate in four years. The result will mean that Foreign Language B. S. students will only have to take 12 additional credits to add the ESL B. S. Minor.

The undergraduate TESL program also has a service component in English 460: Teaching English Language Learners in K-12. This course is offered as part of the K-12 and 7-12 Education sequence and all K-12 and secondary education majors across the university are required to take this class as part of their teacher education programs.

Culminating Experience

The culminating experience for most students is student teaching. Students spend half of the semester student teaching ESL in the elementary grades and half in the secondary grades. Those undergraduates who do not seek K-12 ESL licensure through this program would complete the English Department capstone course or an equivalent experience.

2. Program Need

While program need issues are very similar to those reported in the TESL graduate program section, I would predict that the undergraduate TESL program will continue to grow as more and more undergraduate students become aware of this career option.

3. Future Directions

In the future, we need to identify additional pools of students who would be good undergraduate teacher candidates for the K-12 ESL license. In late March 2003, TESL faculty will meet with representatives from Century College , a MnSCU two year institution, to discuss ways to help their graduates enter the TESL undergraduate program. Hopefully, this collaboration will provide a model for connecting with other two-year institutions in MnSCU . Additionally, we need to begin a negotiation with Elementary Education to provide an ESL minor in their major with the goal of dual licensure in Elementary Education and ESL.

College ESL Testing and Programming at SCSU

By Julie J. Condon, M.A.
ESL Coordinator

This report provides an overview of College English as a Second Language testing and programming at SCSU. This program provides required ESL tests in the areas of listening, reading and writing for new international students at SCSU. Students who do not pass these tests are required to take 100 and 200 level ESL courses in either reading/writing or listening/speaking. The program also includes two 100 orientation courses: 1) one that focuses on cultural adjustments, and 2 ) one that focuses on administrative issues. This program was the initial source of teaching assistantships for the TESL MA program, and now provides about 25% of these assistantships.

1. Program Quality

College ESL Administration

The College ESL program is administered by the College ESL Coordinator, Julie Condon, a fixed-term faculty member, under the direction of the MA TESL director, Jim Robinson. This arrangement came about because of the resignation of the ESL Director, Russ Arent in 2000. Arent had been ESL Director since 1998. Facing difficulties in replacing Arent , the Department asked J. Condon to take over the duties of ESL placement testing and ESL student advising beginning in Fall 2000. The English Department continues to create a plan to hire tenure track faculty in ESL, to include a tenure track Director of ESL. The Coordinator receives 1/3 reassigned time as well as extra duty days for placement testing and advising. This Coordinator teaches ESL courses 1/3 and is currently reassigned the remaining 1/3 to work on ESL issues of immigrants and refugees in higher education, funded by an Otto Bremer Foundation grant of which she was co-author. The Coordinator has one Graduate Administrative Assistant. Advising duties after course placement is concluded include fielding phone calls and emails for information on ESL course offerings, individual advising for international and resident ESL students on academic and life issues, and occasional tutoring for second language students no longer enrolled in ESL The Coordinator has pursued further education in Student Development Theory by completing the graduate level courses CEEP 645 Foundations of Student Services and CEEP 675 Issues in Student Development. The ESL Coordinator also assists the MA TESL director by offering consultation to Teaching Assistants in regard to the progress of their individual students and by offering other resources to them.

ESL Faculty

All nine ESL faculty members, other than the Coordinator, are Graduate Teaching

Assistants in the English Department. In the past, some adjunct and fixed-term faculty were needed, but presently the MA TESL program completely fills the need for instructors. Faculty hiring policy set by the IFO Contract does not provide for MA level TESL professionals to teach ESL courses long term.

Admission and Testing

Prior to 1991, SCSU international students had been required to have a TOEFL score of 500 . As per the 1993 external review, the requirement was changed from 500 to 475 in 1991. The lower score was very helpful in attracting a larger number of academically qualified international students, providing ESL course work upon their arrival. In 1991, the university had about 100 international students. The university has currently met its goal of attracting 900 international students. For fall term 2003, the TOEFL has once again been changed to 500 for two reasons. First, SCSU's Center for International Studies requested the change because the TOEFL requirement of 475 was below the 500 required by the majority of US institutions and other English-medium institutions internationally. They believed that this low requirement may have given an inappropriate impression of low academic standards in our institution. Second, it was too easy for SCSU Intensive English Center students to move to regular SCSU admission through testing alone. (See Appendix K for more details.)

Several substitutions may be made for the TOEFL equivalency:

  1. Meet the 500 standard on International (paper) Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  2. Meet the 500 for the Institutional (paper) TOEFL with a cover letter from the testing institution (for universities with an English as a Second Language program or Intensive English Language Institutes only).
  3. Meet the 173 standard on computer-based TOEFL.
  4. 70 on the Michigan with cover letter from the testing institution (for universities with an English as a Second Language program or Intensive English Language Institutes only).
  5. 5.5 on the International English language Testing System (IELTS).
  6. SAT verbal score of 250.
  7. Successful graduation with a 2.5 cumulative GPA equivalent or higher from a high school or secondary school where English was the medium of instruction (certified letter from high school or secondary school is needed).
  8. Successful completion of 12 credits of non-ESL college course work equivalent to one quarter or semester of full-time work from an English-medium college/university (need a certified letter from the institution indicating English was the medium of instruction) or U.S. university with a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher.
  9. Successful completion of the Intensive English Center at St. Cloud State University with a letter from the IEC Director confirming that the student is ready to do college-level academic work.

Any other evidence of English language proficiency requires a sign-off by the College ESL Director.

All new international students are required to take the ESL Placement Test upon arrival unless they meet one of the following eight criteria:

  1. An official TOEFL score for admission of at least 600 (paper and pencil) or 250 (computer)
  2. An official IELTS score for admission of at least 7.5
  3. Graduation from the Intensive English Center at SCSU
  4. Successful completion of English 191 (Introduction to Rhetorical and Analytical Writing) or an equivalent course with a grade of C or better
  5. Graduation from an Associate Arts degree program at an accredited US college or university
  6. Graduation from a Bachelor's degree program at an accredited US college or university
  7. Graduation from a Master's degree program at an accredited US university
  8. Exchange students from an institution which has an official exchange agreement with SCSU

Placement Testing

The ESL Placement Test currently consists of the computerized ACT/ESL/COMPASS Reading and Listening tests and a one-hour writing sample which is scored in-house using the Jacobs Scale by a group of trained graders from among MA TESL students. Two readers score each essay. The scoring criteria include Content and Development, Organization, Vocabulary, Language use (including grammar), and Mechanics. An average score of 80 is "passing" for all three tests. Based on a score of less than 80, the international student would receive mandatory placement into ESL courses. A score of 70-79 on both the writing and reading tests would place the student into ESL 202 Reading and Writing II. A score below 70 would place the student in ESL 102 Reading and Writing I . The Writing score is considered the more important of the two scores. A score of 70-79 on the listening test would place the student in ESL 201 Listening and Speaking for Academic Purposes, while a score below 70 would indicate placement in ESL 101. (See Appendix D for background information on the testing program.)


Six ESL courses are offered. These classes are regular university classes at the 100 and 200 levels and are worth four semester credits each. These courses have the same numbers as foreign language courses (e.g., French, German, Japanese, Spanish, etc.) at SCSU. ESL courses at SCSU also count for graduation (for undergraduate students) in a student's degree program as university electives.

ESL courses in reading and writing (ESL 102, ESL 202) focus on improving academic reading skills (e.g., previewing, skimming, scanning) as well as promoting writing skills in topic development, organization, grammar, vocabulary and mechanics. Tutoring help for writing is available at the Write Place . ESL courses in listening and speaking (ESL 101, ESL 201) focus on improving academic listening (e.g., note-taking, discrete, global) and speaking (e.g., fluency, organization, pronunciation) skills through in-class presentations and discussion.

In addition to the above classes, there are also two other courses in our program that have no direct relationship with the English placement exam: ESL 150 (Cultural Orientation) and ESL 151 (Administrative Orientation). ESL 150 is a two-credit course that focuses on issues related to culture shock and adjusting to a new culture. ESL 150 is required for all undergraduate students transferring from schools outside the US . All Graduate students and those undergrads who have studied in the U.S for at least one academic year (full-time) are exempt from the requirement for ESL 150. All new international students (graduate students and undergraduates) are required to take ESL 151, which is a one-credit course that focuses on regulations for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), employment concerns, racism, racial and sexual harassment, orientation to computers and the library, and other issues that are important to international students at SCSU

2. Need, Appropriateness, and Contribution of the Program

The College ESL programming at SCSU supports the efforts of the Center for International Studies in bringing international students to SCSU. We strongly believe that we are contributing to Global Education among local students at SCSU, in the greater St. Cloud and central Minnesota community and throughout the world. Economic effects are also felt in both the local and international economy. As we welcome more immigrant and refugee students, we also encourage economic self-sufficiency among these groups and economic well being in our local area as these students join the workforce at higher levels.

For all international students, the ESL courses required as a result of ESL testing help them to survive their first term at SCSU. All of our ESL professors and Teaching Assistants are sensitive to the needs of international and resident ESL students, and at the same time, they are prepared to help these students master the academic culture of SCSU as well as the subject matter of a specific ESL class. Without this testing program and curriculum, the retention rate for international students and residents needing ESL would be lower.

Research on ESL Programming

The system that has been developed over the last decade works, according to the research that has been completed on the effectiveness of ESL testing and the ESL curriculum. Four different graduate students in TESL have conducted research on three different components of the ESL curriculum with two studies completed. Holewa (1997) reported that the ESL testing and writing program was successful in meeting the needs of international students. She found that international students and American students had comparable grades in freshman composition. She then compared two groups of students: 1) international students who passed the ESL writing test, and 2) international students who were required to take ESL writing. The results showed that international students who took the ESL writing courses later had grades in freshman composition that were statistically identical to those who passed the ESL writing test. Actually, the 135 randomly chosen students who took ESL writing had a slightly higher average GPA in English 162 at 3.09 compared to 2.81 for a similar group of 135 who had passed the ESL writing test. These results suggest both that for the most part the ESL writing test passes qualified students and that the ESL writing courses help those students who did not pass to gain the skills required in freshman composition. (See Holewa , Randa Jean. St. Cloud State University 's ESL writing: testing and courses. MA Thesis: St. Cloud State University, 1997.)

Pederson (1998) looked at the ESL reading curriculum. He also found that most international students had grades that were similar to Americans in most of the course work at SCSU. In general, the students who tested out of ESL reading had the same grades or better as American students across the curriculum, but the situation was more complex for the students who did not pass the reading test. For most courses this second group of students achieved the same grades or better as American students after they completed the required ESL reading course, but for some courses they did not. Specifically, those students who did not pass the Michigan test given at that time had statistically significant lower grades in Business Law and American Studies than either American students or international students who had passed the test. This result was particularly important for Business Law, which is a prerequisite for all business majors. At the same time, it means that the Michigan predicted success in Business Law for international students. (See Pederson, Rodney W. International student problems in general education courses . MA Thesis: St. Cloud State University , 1998.)

Carson (2002) partially reconfirmed Holewa's results for English 191 on semesters. She compared average GPAs for international and Minnesota students in general education courses. For 191, international students had a statistically significant higher GPA than Minnesota students. This conclusion suggests that the College ESL program is successful at placing students in English 191 through ESL testing and successful at providing ESL composition instruction to prepare international students for English 191. (See Carson, Nicole. Do international students tend to have poor academic results in general education courses? MA Thesis: St. Cloud State University , 2002.)

Kreie (2001) provided data suggesting that the Cultural Orientation courses at SCSU have had some success in helping international students make the cultural and academic adjustment to life on campus at SCSU. His survey research compared the cultural adjustment of international in ESL 150 for groups who wrote reflective journals in two formats: a dialogue journal format and a non-dialogue format. Overall, he found that ESL 150 had a positive impact on the cultural adjustment of international students and that students in the dialogue journal group had a better adjustment than those in the control group as measured by his pre and post survey instrument. (See Kreie , Nathan. The effectiveness of dialogue journal use in facilitating the cultural awareness and cultural adjustment of international students at a US university. MA thesis: St. Cloud State University 2001.)

At the same time, Whelpley (2002) provided evidence that we need more than cultural orientation courses at SCSU to facilitate the cultural adjustment of international students. In her ethnographic study of one international student group, most students believed that they were integrated into both their ethnic society and US society on campus. A significant minority of students did not want to integrate into US society, however. Also, about half of the students reported that they felt un-welcomed in the community; about 40% reported that they were the victims of harassment, and about 12% reported that they were victims of physical harassment. ( Whelpley , Diane. Bangladeshi international students at St. Cloud State University : An ethnographic study of students needs. MA thesis: St. Cloud State University 2002.)

Current Enrollment

For spring semester, 2003, enrollment in the four Reading/Writing and Listening/Speaking courses is 83. Fifteen of these students are immigrants, while the rest are international students. Enrollment in ESL 150, Cultural Orientation, is 53. ESL 151, Academic Orientation for International Students had 100 students. Overall, the average class size is about 13 students. This average is down from 15 students prior to 9/11, but it is double the average class in 1990.

Meeting the Special Needs of Immigrants

In spring semester of 2001, ESL Coordinator Julie Condon and Intensive English Center instructor John Grether realized that SCSU was not making sufficient effort to welcome area immigrants and refugees to higher education through SCSU ESL classes. The St. Cloud area has recently received an influx of approximately 2,500 Somali refugees and has a significant population of immigrants from a variety of other countries. Condon and Grether created a vision of adapting the current SCSU Division of General Studies curriculum for under-prepared students, in addition to the currently offered ESL courses, to meet the needs of these US residents for whom English is a Second Language. Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Lin Holder, expressed interest in the idea, but was unable to provide funding for a pilot program, and she encouraged Condon and Grether to seek outside funding. Condon and Grether wrote a grant proposal to the Otto Bremer Foundation and were awarded $30,000 in October of 2002. Development in the area of serving "underrepresented students" and English language learners is sincerely encouraged in the MnSCU system, especially in two system documents from the Chancellor's office: Access to Success: Report of the Citizens Advisory Commission (April 2002), and Designing the Future: Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Strategic Plan 2002-2005 (August 2002). .

The First Semester Curriculum for Immigrants and Refugees is now in its first semester. The pilot program is funded for spring and fall semesters of 2003. Thereafter it must either be adopted by SCSU for regular program funding, or outside funding must be secured to continue.

Although US residents are not required to provide proof of English proficiency, the First Semester program is encouraging these prospective students to take the ESL Placement Test. This help has been welcomed by the immigrant community. They realize that higher education is very expensive, and they want to know whether their language proficiency will be suitable to undertake college courses before they make the investment.

The Bremer grant provides funding for instruction, administration, and supplies such as ACT testing units. J. Condon currently receives 1/3 funding for administration of this program through the grant. This time includes investigating research in serving this student population, including networking with ESL professionals at Twin Cities' institutions such as the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Technical and Community College. The ESL Coordinator also educates and advises prospective immigrant and refugee students on aspects of the US higher education system such as admission options and timely application for financial aid.

The arrival of this large immigrant group has also necessitated that SCSU increase communication and cooperation with the K-12 and Adult Basic Education ESL staff through the ESL Coordinator and the TESL Director via the MA TESL program. The ESL Coordinator has also been networking widely with other organizations which serve the immigrant community such as the Minnesota Workforce Center , St. Cloud Somali Salvation Organization, Lutheran Social Services, and others. In addition, she has developed a working relationship with St. Cloud Technical College (SCTC), which is part of the MnSCU system. As SCTC does not offer ESL courses, the administration of both SCTC and SCSU has encouraged this collaboration to refer students whose English language is not sufficient to begin a technical program at SCTC to SCSU for ESL courses. These activities are consistent with the MnSCU Strategic Plan: "The system must encourage and support ongoing innovation among its students, faculty, staff and administrators to keep the system up to date with the social, cultural, and economic needs of Minnesota ." It also states, "This strategic plan is built on assumptions that institutions must work together in an integrated manner," and "To be effective, the system needs to work in partnerships" (1).

The First Semester Curriculum for Immigrants and Refugees first encourages prospective students to take the ESL Placement test. Students with sufficient scores are advised which ESL courses would be appropriate for them and aided with application and registration. Those with insufficient scores (~under 60) are encouraged to continue with Adult Basic Education ESL. More than 34 such prospective students have individually met the ESL Coordinator. Those with appropriate placement test scores are advised for enrollment in College ESL courses as well as special courses for immigrants. Immigrants are welcome to enroll in ESL 150, Cultural Orientation. ESL 151, Academic Orientation for International Students is largely not applicable to the immigrants, but they are welcome to attend selected lectures of that class on the advice of their instructors in COLL 150 and RDNG 110.

The three courses offered through the Bremer Grant limit enrollment in these special sections to second language learners by permission only. The grant pays for the instructors, but students still pay regular per-credit fees for the course.

The first of these courses is: Discovering the College Experience, COLL 150. It uses the curriculum from the Division of General Studies (DGS) program through the Academic Learning Center and earns two elective credits. The course teaches student behaviors, attitudes, skills, and information to achieve college success. Topics include time management, goal setting, academic programs and advising, student services and resources, relationships and health. Format includes interactive exercises, guest lecturers and application assignments

The second course, Reading and Study Strategies 110, also adapts current DGS curriculum and earns two elective credits . This course emphasizes problem-solving strategies designed to organize, record, and review information relating to college course work, and applications of problem solving strategies to enhance individual examinations in college courses.

The third course, Information Media 204, is a regular three-credit course in library research skills, through the Center for Information Media, It meets General Education distribution requirement credits in Area A, Humanities and Fine Arts, as well as meeting a requirement for Diversity content. The multicultural content focuses on the immigrant experience in the United States .

The College ESL Coordinator and the three instructors of these courses meet weekly to discuss student, program, and research issues.

Of 27 seats in these three courses, 15 are immigrants, serving 10 individual immigrants in that group. The other seats are international students on academic probation or who continue to need more preparatory help. Thirteen of 83 seats in ESL language skills courses are immigrants, and at least four students in the IEC are immigrants.

3. Future Directions

For Immigrants

Current Minnesota state budget deficits are expected to take a toll on the ABE ESL program and this possibility is a current concern. The gap between high school and post-secondary ESL is an area of concern for all involved. Though the SCSU Intensive English Center is the academically appropriate place for most under-prepared immigrants, its full-time, non-credit structure does not fit the lifestyle demands of the adult refugees, who must usually work full-time. In addition, as the IEC does not earn college credit, these students cannot use financial aid to fund their attendance in the IEC. Therefore, though the First Semester Curriculum program is trying to make do with what is currently available, creative ideas for meeting the needs of this group of resident adult ESL students continue to be sought.

For International Students

In cooperation with the Center for International Studies, the College ESL Program intends to continue to attract and serve the language and cultural needs of international students. With the change in the required TOEFL score from 475 to 500, we hope that under-prepared students will still choose to join SCSU through the Intensive English Center . The current world political situation has caused some concern about the ability of students accepted to SCSU to obtain a student visa. We will continue to support our international students by providing a safe, friendly, and welcoming environment as they begin their academic life with us.

The Intensive English Center
Department of English, College of Fine Arts and Humanities

By Marya Teutsch-Dwyer, Ph. D.
IEC Director

I. Administering the IEC

History of the Program

The Saint Cloud State University Intensive English Center (IEC) is a five-level, non-credit-bearing, revenue-generating program established in the Department of English during the 1996-97 academic year. The program began its operation in the Fall Quarter of 1997. I designed the program in its entirety and have managed its budget successfully. The only seed money I received to develop the program, hire teachers, advertise, and start the recruitment for the program was $10,000. I was promised a lot more by President Grube in the presence of seven members of the university, including the dean and the department chair; however, Grube later flatly denied having ever made such a promise. Despite the meager financial means at my disposal, I developed a sound budget and have never required assistance from the university resources. The program is fully self-supporting.

It's been clear from time to time that the administrative structure does not allow for a smooth operation of a program such as this one.

Mission statement

The IEC provides intensive, high quality academic instruction of English and critical thinking skills to student populations whose primary language is other than English. It also strives to expose students to the American culture, to facilitate their successful functioning in the US academic environment, with a focus on SCSU. It strives to enhance the students' perceptions of cross-cultural communication and cultural behavioral patterns.


All instructors this year (except for John Grether) are current TESL MA graduate students in the English Department. Most of the GAs teaching in the IEC have had prior experience teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language. All teachers have lived or taught overseas, and all have gone through a process of learning at least one foreign language.

Enrollments and Student Profile

The student numbers have been growing steadily, with 7 enrolled in 1997 and 27 in Fall 2002 at the time when other similar programs across the nation have suffered from enrollment decline.

The first batches of IEC graduates have graduated from the SCSU degree programs, thus contributing even more to the university resources. Others are doing very well, enhancing the diversity of student populations. The IEC has thus contributed financially and culturally to the well being of the university.

During the five years of operation, IEC students have fallen into one of the following categories:

  • 90% -- students who apply to SCSU degree programs;
  • 8% -- students who wish to enhance their English skills and return to their home countries (students, business associates, professionals, etc.);
  • 1% -- permanent residents and political refugees who need to learn English for academic or vocational purposes;
  • 1% -- students who plan to apply to other universities.

Criteria for Enrollment

Applicants need to meet four basic criteria. They need to have a high school diploma, a record of a minimum of two years of school instruction in English, or its equivalent, and be at least 18 years of age at the time they enter the program. In addition, in the case of international students, they need to provide proof of financial ability to cover all costs associated with their education at the Center on the basis of which they are issued an I-20 for the study of English at IEC. In some cases a combined I-20 may be issued for students admitted to SCSU's degree program upon successful completion of the IEC Level 4 or Level 5.

Marketing and Recruiting

The IEC's marketing and recruiting efforts include the following strategies:

  1. The IEC website ( www.stcloudstate.edu/~iec ), with a link to the SCSU website;
  2. The Study in the USA brochures and websites targeting Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish speaking student populations;
  3. Spindler's Latin American edition of Languages in the World brochure (in Spanish)
  4. An IEC brochure (created as a result of attending a two-day workshop on Marketing and Recruiting International Students organized by NAFSA), advertising items;
  5. Conventions and/or professional international meetings;
  6. Mailings to different universities, recruiting agents, and embassies;
  7. Responding to individual e-mails, letters, phone calls and visits to the IEC office.

II . Funding provided by IEC in 2002-2003

Not counting the state matched funding for every graduate credit, the IEC will contribute approximately $110,000.00 to SCSU in real money.

  1. Staff funding

    The IEC funds all the MA TESL GAs who teach in the IEC program. (It is the English Department's policy that inter-programmatic synergies exist and that GAs can get teaching/tutoring experience among the four programs we offer.) This year alone, the IEC has funded 12 GAs in the fall and 11 GAs in the spring, for a total of $86,250.00.

  2. Tuition remission

    In addition to GAships , the IEC currently covers 70% of tuition remission, which amounts to approximately $10,000.00. The IEC will increase tuition remission contributions by 10% every year, as agreed upon between Dean Nunes and myself.

  3. SCSU fees

    All the IEC students pay SCSU's full-time student activity fees, which amount to over $10,000 this year .

  4. The ALC lab

    The IEC pays a special per-user fee for the use of the ALC computer lab in SH-101.

  5. Office supplies and the use of equipment

    The IEC covers the costs of office supplies, the use of the fax, copier, and telephone.

  6. The Program

    The IEC pays for all the books, advertising and recruitment costs, application forms, brochures, and the general running of the program. Many current and past SCSU international students have been recruited with the IEC money.

III . Program Description


The IEC curriculum is based on a five-level language instruction. Each level can be completed in one academic term, consisting of 23 hours of instruction per week for 15 weeks. Students who successfully complete Level Four fulfill the SCSU English proficiency requirement, currently equivalent to TOEFL 500 (or 173 CB) for undergraduate admissions. Students seeking admission to graduate degree programs must successfully complete Level 5 to satisfy the English language requirement, equivalent to TOEFL 550 (or 213 CB). Most recently, the SCSU School of Graduate Studies has introduced a new admissions criterion for academically strong international applicants. This new status, called Language Admission, allows potential students to be admitted to a graduate program on condition that they successfully complete Level 5 in the Intensive English Center (refer to the attached memo from the Dean, Dennis Nunes).

The teaching principles and the textbooks adopted for the IEC program reflect the latest methodological approaches based on extensive research on second/foreign language learning processes and on culturally diverse learning styles. The IEC curriculum espouses attention to both linguistic accuracy and linguistic fluency and attempts to address both through a well-balanced selection of courses. The following classes are offered: reading, writing/composition, structure, vocabulary, listening/speaking, computer technology for academic purposes, oral presentation, academic discussion, conversation, spelling, pronunciation, cultural orientation, administrative orientation to SCSU, and American culture. Moreover, instructors hold office hours for individual meetings with students and participate in extra-curricular activities. The highlights of the IEC's cultural program include weekly trips to various public offices, schools, exhibits, concerts or plays, participating in local holiday events, winter and summer recreational activities, and week-end home-stays. These cultural activities differ each semester to bring to students a more varied insight into the American culture.

Intensive Curriculum

According to the TESOL and TCA accreditation guidelines, an IEP (Intensive English Program) can be called intensive when students are enrolled in a minimum of 18 hours of instruction per week. The IEC offers 23 hours of instruction, including technology instruction, Administrative Orientation (ESL 151), Cultural Orientation (ESL 150) and a cultural program.

Student and Teacher Evaluation and Assessment

Students in the IEC are evaluated on a regular basis, and grades are assigned in accordance with academic standards of achievement within each level. Placement tests are administered in order to place students in the level most appropriate to their current level of proficiency. At the completion of each level (= one academic term), students receive the IEC Certificates of Completion of a specific level during a closing ceremony. Students evaluate teachers twice during the term. Early evaluation and suggestions allow the teacher and the Program Director to make the necessary adjustments, if necessary.

IEC Student Privileges and the Code of Conduct

The IEC students receive SCSU ID cards that give them access to the same university facilities, which are available to all SCSU matriculated students. All international students are required to have the SCSU's health insurance. The IEC Director may provide academic assistance and will guide the students in the application process to SCSU degree programs, refer them to the Center for International Studies and other departments, if necessary. The rules and regulations as specified in the Students' Code of Conduct obligate all IEC students. Moreover, all on student visas are subject to standard immigration regulations.

Orientation and Teaching Practicum

The IEC instructors are provided with an orientation to the program goals, standards, and policies (scheduled during the days prior to the beginning of each semester). Throughout each semester, instructors attend weekly Teaching Practicum with the IEC Director, offered as a one-credit 600-level class. Teachers with MA degrees also attend the weekly meetings.

Classroom Space and Equipment

The IEC has secured two classrooms in Eastman Hall (we had the classroom refurbished to meet the demands of a language class) and one in Riverview. We also have space reserved in Riverview Lab and in the Academic Learning Resources Computer lab, for which the IEC pays a separate fee based on the number of students per semester.

IV . Future Directions

  1. The IEC program has been growing in numbers at a steady pace. This growth has created an important contribution to enrollment figures at SCSU.
  2. The program has also contributed in two important ways to the caliber of the SCSU MA TESL program. From the experiential perspective, it has provided the TESL graduate assistants with an invaluable and rich experience teaching in multi-lingual and multi-cultural classrooms, often with as many languages as there were students in one class (a crucial asset for future teaching assignments). The culturally diverse learning styles of the IEC students facilitated the implementation of student-centered teaching philosophies and approaches. From the research perspective, the IEC program has served as a research forum for numerous graduate student research papers, several conference presentations, and, so far, for five masters theses. With the growing numbers of IEC students, the contributions to research in the area of second language learning and teaching are increasingly more meaningful and statistically more significant.
  3. The growing numbers of students in the IEC has contributed to a greater financial security and a greater opportunity to offer more GAships for TESL graduate students. It would be beneficial for the program if the enrollments could increase, to approximately 40-50 students. However, the IEC should remain a relatively small program for at least two reasons: (1) to maintain the high quality it currently has, with very high retention rates, which are due to individualized attention to each student's linguistic and academic needs and (2) to maintain cost-effective operation of the program.
  4. Having had five successful years, the IEC program is now ready to undergo a national accreditation review. The process, if not hindered by any extraneous circumstances, may start early next fall. An accreditation review is a three-year process, which, apart from a substantial workload, requires a serious financial commitment.

TESL Programs

By James H. Robinson, Ph. D.
TESL Director

Outreach is also a major component of TESL programming at SCSU. These activities began in 1979 with the establishment of the SCSU-Akita Exchange agreement. They have continued with the signing of another such agreement and with the development and implementation of two contracts for TESL services. Since 1979, these programs have served over 500 Japanese students and over 100 English teachers from Costa Rica and Japan , have resulted in nine SCSU faculty or graduates completing almost 30 person years of English teaching in Japan , and have provided over 174 short term positions for TESL faculty and students in St. Cloud . These outreach activities have generated over $1,000,000 in outside funding for SCSU during the 1995-2003 period. This discussion will first focus on the international agreements and second outline the international contracts.

TESL Related Exchange Agreements: 1979-present

As the story goes, Professor Bill Nunn, from the history department at SCSU, went to Japan to learn about Japanese history and culture in order to set the foundation for an East Asian Studies program at SCSU. He wanted to see the real Japan and so wanted to visit an area outside of Tokyo . With a map of Japan in front of him, he closed his eyes and placed his index finger on the map. He told his contacts in Japan that he wanted to go there for five days. They told him that nobody went there for more than one day. The place was Akita City in Akira Prefecture in the northwestern part of Honshu Island . Professor Nunn made his trip, but he needed a translator as he was new to Japanese studies and did not speak Japanese. Professor Junji Miura from Akita University became his translator, and a thirty year friendship began.

Both professors have been honored for their ground-breaking work. Professor Nunn was awarded an honorary Ph. D. degree from Akita University . Professor Miura was honored in St. Cloud when The World Commons Garden between the Administrative Building and Centennial Hall on campus at St. Cloud State was named The Professor Junji Miura Garden in thanks to him for his work to promote educational exchange and international understanding between Japan and Minnesota .

SCSU-Akita Exchange Agreement

This friendship between the two professors was the foundation for almost every other TESL outreach activity at SCSU. The SCSU-Akita Exchange Agreement was the first such activity. Seven SCSU professors (one on two separate tours) have taught English in the English Education Department at Akita University for an average of 2.5 years each during the 24 year span of the agreement. In exchange, five Akita University have taught at SCSU on short term, one semester assignments. Since 1981, 50 Akita University students mostly from English Education have come to study English and TESL education at SCSU for two semesters. In exchange, about 15 SCSU students have gone to Akita University to study Japanese language and culture.

Funding for the professor exchange comes primarily from Japan . A Mombushu (Japan Ministry of Education) grant funds the SCSU professors in Akita , and Akita University sabbatical money fund most of the Japanese professors' activities in St. Cloud . The exchange students pay tuition at their respective universities as they attend classes at the sister institution. Scholarships are also available for one SCSU student to study at Akita University .

In November 2002, the Akita Association of English Studies published their annual journal volume in dedication to this 24 year exchange agreement. The volume was titled: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Language Learning: A Collection of Academic Papers in Honor of Dr. James H. Robinson; it included four articles from SCSU faculty and five from Akita University faculty.

SCSU- Serei Exchange Agreement

The relationship between SCSU and Akita Prefecture was extended to a second agreement with a post-secondary institute when Professors Junji Miura and James Robinson developed the SCSU- Seirei Exchange agreement. This agreement had two major components: a summer ESL camp and a TEFL professor placement program.

During the Seirei Women's Junior College Summer ESL Program, twenty-six students and two chaperones attended a three-week program staffed by seven SCSU graduate students at a total cost of $56,000. The program ended almost before it was begun, as financial pressures forced the closure of the English language program at this Junior College in Japan .

The TEFL Professor program was designed to have two TESL MA graduates placed in TEFL Professorships in the English Department at Seirei Women's Junior College. Jay Stocker and Ewa Grave went to Akita to fill these one year assignments. Both continued into a second year, but in the third year of the program, the number of TESL professor positions was reduced to one because of the small intake of new students at Seirei . Ms. Grave continued teaching into her third year. For the fourth year of the program, a third person was scheduled to continue in 2002, but because of illness, the designated person was unable to go to Japan . With continued enrollment problems at Seirei , the program was not renewed by mutual agreement of SCSU and Seirei Women's Junior College in 2002.

TESL Contracts: 1995-2002

The friendship agreements between Akita and SCSU provided the major connection that lead to the founding of Minnesota State University at Akita in 1990. This branch campus of the MnSCU system was one of forty-plus American campuses established in Japan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In March 2003, MSU-Akita will close its doors as one of the last two such campuses to end operation in Japan . In April 2004, the Akita Prefecture University will open the doors to a new International Campus with a strong curricular connection to MnSCU .

The connection between MSU-Akita and SCSU during the 1990s lead to two significant contracts for ESL language services: 1) the Akita Summer ESL Program, a non-credit bearing ESL camps for high school, and 2) the Link Akita Minnesota Professionally (LAMP) program, a non-credit bearing, language and professional education program for public sector employees.

Contracts from these programs have produced almost $1,000,000 in outside funding for TESL Programs at St. Cloud State University . Table 4 provides the basic outline of these programs:

Table 4: TESL Program Contracts through MSU-Akita: 1995--2002

Program and Year Participants Staff Cost
  Students Teachers    
Akita Summer ESL Program        
1995 60 3 17 $125,000
1996 60 4 17 $125,000
1997 60 4 17 $110,000
1998 60 4 17 $110,000
1999 60 4 19 $104,000
2000 80 5 24 $154,000
2001 60 5 21 $94,000
2002 60 5 19 $100,000
Subtotal 500 30 154 $922,000
Link Akita Minnesota Professional Program        
1999 2   1 $11,700
2000 2   1 $11,700
2001 2   1 $11,700
2002 2   1 $11,700
Subtotal 8   4 $46,800
Total 508 30 158 $968,800

Each of these programs has its own history and its own benefit to the TESL graduate program at SCSU. The Akita Summer ESL Program began as a recruiting programs for the Minnesota State University at Akita (MSU-A. This three week program provided an international experience for both the Japanese participants and the Minnesota staff. Akita Prefecture high school students were recruited for this summer program in the hope that they would then enter MSU-A, finish their AA degree there and then transfer to a MnSCU university. For SCSU, this program began as a means to supplement the anemic TA stipend ($5,000) in 1995. We were able to hire 12 undergraduate or graduate students as mentors and five graduate students as ESL teachers in almost every year of the project. In total, 154 hires have been made although they represent fewer individuals as we had many students continue from year to year. We also had contact with 30 Japanese chaperones--English teachers from Akita high schools. Some of these individuals had been English Education exchange students from Akita University in a exchange program with St. Cloud State and so were experiencing their second visit to St. Cloud . For the fifth anniversary of the program, the Superintendent of the Akita Prefecture Board of Education visited St. Cloud and reported that in 2000 on SAT-like tests for College Admission in Japan, high school seniors from Akita Prefecture improved their scores on the English section of the tests so that the average English score for Akita's Prefecture ranked from 5 th among the 28 prefectural government bodies in Japan. This was a major improvement as their rank had been 21 st a decade earlier. The Superintendent thanked SCSU for its contribution to the improvement in these scores. (See Appendix L for a sample of a report from one of these programs.)

The LAMP program was also begun as part of the MSU-Akita effort to link Akita with Minnesota . Each year two prefecture level bureaucrats from the international office of the Prefecture Government completed a one year program in Japan and Minnesota . They began with six months of English study at MSU-A. They came to SCUS and continued their studies in English at the Intensive English Center and in political science by auditing SCSU courses for one semester. Lastly, for two months, each participant had his or her own job shadow experience: they would be attached to a city, country or state government office and follow one employee as this individual completed his or her daily tasks. Typically, one person was hired to work part-time to help the two participants settle in and to arrange for their job shadow.

The Costa Rican TEFL MA Program

The last outreach program was the Costa Rican TEFL MA Program. This credit-bearing program through Continuing Studies at SCSU was initiated from SCSU contracts developed from the Latin American Studies study abroad program. The International Classroom, a private language institute in Costa Rica , provided the logistical support for six faculty members to go to Costa Rica and provide a full MA program for a cohort of 25 students. Each professor spent two weeks in Costa Rica teaching intensive versions of courses on the weekend to students who were English teachers at all levels of education in Costa Rica . The bankruptcy of the private language institute slowed down the completion of the program, but by Spring 2003, 15 of the 25 participants had received their degrees and another five have been actively continuing the program. In addition, six faculty members were able to learn about the English teaching/learning situation in Costa Rica as part of their professional development. This program generated $125,000 in tuition for SCSU. (See Appendix M for the Mid-term report of this program.)

Future Directions

Outside funding is approximately 20% of the university budget. TESL contracts and the Intensive English program provide a similar funding input for the overall TESL program in the English Department. TESL contracts provide over $100,000 in outside funding per year or about 10% of the overall income from all TESL sources. Another 10% is provided by the Intensive English Center . We need to continue with these programs to continue our international contacts, especially in Akita , Japan , and to develop new ones in other countries. These contacts help our students who are hired as staff to gain intercultural communication skills that are needed by all TESL professionals. They also give our students another valued teaching experience. With our experience in this type of programming, we need to expand our marketing beyond traditional contacts to develop programs for students from other countries.

Contributions and Costs of TESL Programming

By James H. Robinson, Ph. D.
TESL Director

In the form of concluding statements about TESL programming at SCSU, I will summarize the contributions of TESL programming to the University, the State, and to the Profession and comment on program income and cost.

1. Contribution of the Program

Since 1986 when the first TESL professor arrived at SCSU, TESL programs have provided college level ESL course work to thousands of international students, prepared almost 100 international and permanent resident students for academic study through our Intensive English Center, produced over 100 ESL teachers for K-12 classrooms, graduated 92 students with MA degrees in TESL, graduated about 30 undergraduates in TESL, and provided an annual average of ten TA opportunities to TESL graduate students through the IEC.

In 2003, almost 200 of our current and former students are teaching ESL or working in the field in some other way somewhere in Minnesota , the US , and the world. Five of them have finished their Ph. D. degrees in Applied Linguistics or a related field and are professors at universities or community colleges. One of these five has just been chosen as the ESL Director at Winona State University -the first former TESL MA student to become a professor at a sister MnSCU university. Five students are pursuing Ph. D. studies in Applied Linguistics or a related field. Ten are teaching ESL at the community or technical college level-mostly in Minnesota . Forty are teaching or have taught English as a foreign language in: China , Costa Rica , Hong Kong , Hungry, Indonesia , Israel , Japan , Korea , Poland , Saudi Arabia , Taiwan , Thailand , Turkey , and the UAE. Twenty-four are teaching in adult education ESL classrooms-with most of them teaching in the Twin Cities or St. Cloud . And about 115 of our current or former students are teaching ESL in K-12 classrooms from Arizona to Washington, D. C., but mostly in Minnesota . Every one of the twenty-one ESL teachers in the St. Cloud School District has at least one degree or license from the TESL program at SCSU, and several of them are working on their second degree from SCSU.

Currently, TESL programs at SCSU have 40 full-time graduate students, 70 part-time students, twenty-five MA students who only need to complete their thesis, ten Costa Rican students from a Continuing Studies Project, thirty undergraduate students, and five students taking TESL course work for a retirement career for a total of 180 students. Thirty-six of our full-time graduate students have graduate assistantships, and five undergraduate students receive financial aide through the Multicultural Educator's program in the School of Education .

Very importantly, the twenty-seven international and minority students in TESL undergraduate and graduate programs constitute the bulk of the cultural diverse student population in the department.

2. Cost and Fiscal management of the Program

TESL programming at SCSU has also made its contribution to the overall university budget ; it is now a million dollar operation. The following Table outlines the approximate annual income from all TESL program activities.

Table 5: TESL Program Income

TESL Tuition $270,000
College ESL Tuition 130,000
Tuition Subtotal 400,000
State Match 400,000
IEC Income 110,000
TESL Programs Income 110,000
Totals 1,020,000

The credit bearing part of these programs produce approximately $400,000 in tuition which is matched by a similar sum in state appropriations for a total of $800,000. In addition, non-credit bearing programs in the Intensive English Center and through TESL programs generate another $220,000 of income. At the very least, this income pays for the instruction provided by TESL faculty and TAs. From a fiscal point of view, this program is a microcosm of the university budget: about 80% of the university budget comes from tuition and state sources and about 20% comes from other sources.

In sum

In 1985, as part of an external review of ESL programming at SCSU, Dr. David Estes, USC, advised that SCSU should hire a TESL professor to develop the TESL field in the English Department at SCSU. We began slowly with a few interested students from the local area, and we have grown from a handful of students in 1989 to almost 200 students in 2003. The demand for K-12 ESL teachers has spurred an explosion in the program. Fiscally, TESL programming has grown from being less than self-sustaining to becoming a program that more than pays for itself. This development was planned in the following steps:

  • The development of the College ESL Program from a small program with single digit enrollments to a program with a full range of courses and with economically sound enrollments was the first step in developing the opportunities for teaching assistantships that fueled the full-time graduate student population.
  • The curriculum development of graduate and undergraduate degree programs that could lead to K-12 ESL licensure was the next step in the process.
  • The extension of ESL language services through non-credit bearing contracts and programs provided important sources of TA funding from the Intensive English Center and summer job opportunities from the TESL program contracts.
  • The extension of TESL course work throughout Minnesota with ITV courses and the exporting of our MA program internationally.
  • The development of ESL programs to address the needs of immigrant ESL populations.

In the future, we need to continue to develop ways of providing high quality TESL education for all ESL teaching areas in an efficient but effective manner. For the immediate future, it means a greater focus on the K-12 ESL job market. We need to explore alternative pools from which to recruit future ESL teachers. The traditional pool has been graduate students. But, the enrollment of full-time graduate students appears to have reached a plateau as we have no new source of funding for graduate assistantships. Within these limitations, SCSU's graduate program has grown through part-time enrollments in last few years. In the future, we may need to focus more on recruitment of undergraduate TESL students who are not dependent upon graduate assistantships for student funding.

Appendix A: TESL Graduate Student Cohorts

Year Total Full-time Part-time International Minority Grad %
Pre89 3 3 0 0 0 3 100
1989 3 3 0 1 1 3 100
1990 7 7 0 3 0 7 100
1991 6 1 5 0 0 5 83
1992 11 7 4 3 1 10 91
1993 5 5 0 0 0 5 100
1994 9 9 0 0 0 8 89
1995 6 3 3 1 0 4 66
1996 9 7 2 2 0 5 55
1997 14 13 1 1 0 8 57
1998 12 12 0 2 0 7 58
1999 16 15 1 7 0 8 50
2000 16 11 5 4 2 3  
2001 34 24 10 11 1 1  
2002 39 22 17 11 6    
Sub 188 140 48 44 11 77  
%   75 26 23 6    
Costa Rica TEFL 25   25 25 0 15 60
Total 213 140 73 69 11 92  

Appendix B: TESL Professors and Students make ten presentations at Midwest TESOL
November 7-9, 2002

Virginia Ferlet, TESL MA student, co-presented Adult Pre-literacy and Low Literacy Theme-Based Classroom Teaching and Learning Ideas ;

John Grether, instructor at Intensive English Center, and Sharon Cogdill, Associate Dean of FAH, presented Still MOOing in English: Best Practice for Eliciting Authentic Language from English Language Learners in a Computer Lab Setting;

Choonkyong Kim, Assistant Professor of TESL, presented Incidental Learning of Second Language Vocabulary;

Sheila Marquardt, TESL MA student, presented a poster session titled, Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education ;

Joe Osgood, TESL MA student, presented Using Video in the ESL Classroom;

James H. Robinson, Professor of TESL , and Choonkyong Kim, Assistant Professor of TESL, presented Teaching Korean Students in their own Cultural Contexts;

James H. Robinson, TESL Professor, presented Applied Contrastive Rhetoric ;

Sandra Russell-Flowers, TESL MA student, presented The Vocabulary Album ;

Marya Teutsch-Dwyer, Associate Professor of TESL, presented How can International Students Negotiate their Identities at an American University ? ; and

Diana Whelpley , TESL MA, presented Bangladeshi International Students: Their Experiences in their own Words .

Appendix C: English learners push schools to top spots

Central Minnesota local news for Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Abdikani Mohamed, 20, (right) and Abdirizaq Ahmed, 17, work on essays about Chinese astrology Wednesday in their English as a second language class at Apollo High School . (Times photo by Jason Wachter)

5 March, 2003
English learners push schools to top spots
Sarah Colburn
Staff Writer

About 565 students in the St. Cloud school district are English Language Learners and speak one of about 23 first languages.

Those who take ELL classes at Apollo High School and North Junior High School have scored high enough on the recent Minnesota Test of Emerging Academic English to put the two schools among the top six in the state in writing proficiency.

"They're doing something right. They're doing a good job," said Brenda Sprenger , assessment coordinator for the district.

Almost 62 percent of the seventh-graders and 56 percent of eighth-graders at North who took the test scored in the top two levels of proficiency in writing.

At Apollo, 53 percent of ninth-graders, 74 percent of sophomores, 46 percent of juniors and 60 percent of seniors who took the test scored in the top two levels of proficiency in writing.

Both schools have what Sprenger considers to be an established ELL program. The two provide a goal to work toward as the district expands ELL programs in its other buildings, Sprenger said.

About 40,000 students in the state took the test this year. Last year, ELL

students and those speaking a home language other than English took the test. This year only students in an ELL program were tested.

The results could carry a lot of weight for school districts with large concentrations of those students because officials will make decisions on what the state will pay for ELL programs based on the test.

Some basic themes emerged in this year's results, released Feb. 24.

A student's age, number of years in the United States and cultural background make a difference in how they perform.

Class structure

This year, the St. Cloud district has budgeted about $1 million for ELL programs. The district gets an extra $584 from the state for each identified ELL student or about $330,000 a year.

Those extra dollars are in jeopardy of being cut or reduced as the state attempts to lessen its budget deficit, said Kevin Januszewski , business manager for the district.

At Apollo High School , teachers Sue Peterka and Jill Schuldt-Martinez are two of the people responsible for bringing English to students who's first language may be Somali, Spanish, Oromo and Cambodian, Lao or Vietnamese.

At Apollo, there are 18 ELL classes. Teachers give their lesson plans in English and the class functions in much the same way a teacher presents German lessons to English-speaking students.

A new ELL student with no background in English begins with lessons in total physical response where the teacher acts out vocabulary words. From there, students move onto sounding letters and writing script to reading. The last stage includes continued vocabulary building, listening, academic writing and public speaking.

"We look at successful academic English, (there's an) expectation these students will use English to learn other content areas," Schuldt-Martinez said.

Many of the ELL students take one or two English classes in addition to mainstream classes. Paraprofessionals are available to assist with the mainstream classes.

Nhu Lam, 16, came to the United States in 1999. She's gone through the ELL program at North and is a sophomore at Apollo.

"When you study with a teacher, they know the way to explain it so it's really easy," Lam said.

The continued classes allow her to improve her writing and pronunciation skills.

Teachers also encourage students to remain proficient in their first language. That is absolutely necessary to success, Peterka said.

Last week, Schuldt-Martinez and Peterka had students research and write papers explaining astrological signs in celebration of the Vietnamese new year.

Class work often combines skills with a celebration of the students' culture.


Teachers in the ELL classroom often face challenges different than those of their colleagues in mainstream classrooms.

"When new families come in, sometimes the schools are the only connection they have," Schuldt-Martinez said.

That may mean the family relies on help from their child's teacher to understand insurance papers or bills.

Schuldt-Martinez has helped families find furniture, housing and work.

" Those kind of things aren't things that are in our job description, but we need to take care of those things too," she said.

The teacher also is often the person to advocate for the student. They help fill out school forms and develop class schedules or help the student understand what's needed to go to college.

For 16-year-old Mui Gip , ELL teachers make all the difference. She's been in an ELL program since she came to the United States in 1997.

"They have the patience to teach me," she said.

Tracking trends

The results of the test of Emerging Academic English will help Gip's teachers track her progress from year to year.

Although it's the second year school districts have given the test, it's the first time the test has taken student scores and developed levels of proficiency. There are five levels, with five being the highest. The test also ranks scores according to the number of years a student has been in an ELL program, making it possible to compare their progress to that of students across the state who have been in a similar program for the same amount of time.

Sprenger plans to look at the details of the results and, in the future, will look to make sure students are moving up the levels of proficiency.

As more students take the test districts can begin to identify trends making the results more valuable, Sprenger said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


On the Net

To view results of individual schools, visit the Department of Children, Families & Learning Web site at http://children.state.mn.us.

Click on English Learners' Test Results Released, then click on complete results.

Statistics for the St. Cloud and Melrose school districts are available. Sauk Rapids-Rice and Sartell-St. Stephen school district numbers aren't available because the number of students tested is so small that individuals could be identified by the results.

Appendix D: TESL MA program


Master of Arts: Teaching English as a Second Language Plan A (Thesis--Minimum 36 Cr.)
Plan B (Non-Thesis--Minimum 36 Cr.)
Dept. Number Name of Course Instructor Sem/Yr. Credits Mark
I. Major Prescribed:          
A. Research: Plan A, 9 Cr.; Plan B, 6 Cr.        
ENGL 607 Research in English: Empirical Design OR ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ED 615 Introduction to Research ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ED 614 Interpretation of Research (Plan B only) ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 699 Thesis (required for Plan A) ____________________ _____ 6 _____
ENGL 668 Research in TESL: Topics (Plan B Only) ____________________ _____ 3 _____
B. Pedagogy: Plan A, 15 Cr.; Plan B, 15 Cr.        
1. Required: Plan A or B, Two courses: 6 Cr.        
ENGL 561 Teaching ESL: Theory and Methods ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 562 TESL Methods: Reading and Writing ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 661 Theories of Second Language Acquisition ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 662 College Level ESL ____________________ _____ 3 _____
2. Distributed: Plan A, Plan B Three courses: 9 Cr.:        
ENGL 563 ESL and Culture ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 567 Topics in Teaching ESL (3-6 Cr.) ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 652 Computers, English & Pedagogy ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 656 Teaching College Writing ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 667 Assessment, Evaluation & Testing in TESL ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 668 Research in TESL: Topics ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 669 Seminar in TESL & Language Acquisition Research ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ED 557 Bilingual-Bicultural Education ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ED 558 Literacy for Second Language Learners ____________________ _____ 3 _____
C. Linguistics: Plan A, 6 Cr.; Plan B, 9 Cr.        
ENGL 564 English Grammars ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 565 History of the English Language ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 566 American English ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 569 Topics in Linguistics ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 663 Phonetics & Phonology ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 664 Pedagogical Grammar ____________________ _____ 3 _____
ENGL 666 Sociololinguistic ____________________ _____ 3 _____
    Total Credits in Major __________      

II. Electives: A maximum of 6 Cr. may be earned as electives from any of the courses listed above, or from any other graduate course ni the English Department or from cognate courses in other departments. Consent of Advisor.
_____ _____ _________________________ ____________________ _____ _____ _____
_____ _____ _________________________ ____________________ _____ _____ _____
_____ _____ _________________________ ____________________ _____ _____ _____
_____ _____ _________________________ ____________________ _____ _____ _____
    Total Credits in Electives __________      

Appendix E: K-12 ESL Licensure Graduate Program:
St. Cloud State University

Prerequisite: English 361 B Introduction to Linguistics, 4 cr.

Linguistics: choose one

English 564: English Syntax, 3 cr.
English 565: History of the English Language, 3 cr.
English 663: Phonetics and Phonology, 3 cr.
English 664: Pedagogical Grammar, 3 cr.

Language and Culture: choose three

English 563: ESL and Culture, 3 cr.
English 566: American English, 3 cr.
English 569: Topics in Linguistics, 3 cr.
English 666: Sociolinguistics, 3 cr.
ED 557: Bilingual-Bicultural Education, 3 cr.

Methods and Applied Linguistics: choose three

English 561: TESL Theory and Methods, 3 cr.
English 562: TESL Methods: Reading and Writing, 3 cr.
English 567: Assessment, Evaluation and Testing, 3 cr.
English 661: Theories of Second Language Acquisition, 3 cr.
English 662: TESL for Academic Purposes, 3 cr.
English 667: Assessment, Evaluation and Testing, 3 cr.
ED 558: Literacy for Second Language Learners, 3 cr.

Electives: Choose one of the above courses

For more information, contact:
James H. Robinson, Ph. D.

Appendix F: TESL Certificate at the Graduate Level

For unconditional admission to the TESL Certificate at the Graduate level, the applicant must have an graduate degree in any field, and have completed one year of a foreign language or equivalent proficiency or have completed an introductory course in linguistics. Previous knowledge or study in linguistics would be beneficial for applicants to this program. The applicant must also meet the educational standards of the Graduate School .

A minimum of half of the credits should be earned in courses limited to graduate students.

Sixteen Credits should be taken with the following distributions:

  1. Pedagogy: two courses or 6 Cr.
    • ENGL 561. Teaching ESL: Theory and Methods, 3 Cr. and
      ENGL 562. TESL Methods: Reading and Writing, 3 Cr., OR
    • ENGL 661. Theories of Second Language Acquisition, 3 Cr. and
    • ENGL 662. TESL for Academic Purposes, 3 Cr.

  2. Linguistics: two courses or 6 Cr.
    One from:
    • ENGL 564. English Syntax, 3 Cr.
      ENGL 663. Phonetics and Phonology, 3 Cr.
      ENGL 664. Pedagogical Grammar, 3 Cr.
    And one from:
    • ENGL 565. History of the English Language, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 566. American English, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 569. Topics in Linguistics, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 666. Sociolinguistics, 3 Cr.

  3. Related Fields: one course or 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 563. ESL and Culture, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 567. Topics in Teaching ESL, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 667. Assessment, Evaluation, and Testing in TESL, 3 Cr.
    • ENGL 669. Seminar in TESL and Language Acquisition Research, 3 Cr.

  4. Practicum:
    • ENGL 665: TESL Practicum, 1 Cr.

Appendix G: Wave of Pupils Lacking English Strains Schools

New York Times
August 5, 2002

MAGNOLIA, N.C. - A wave of immigrants in the last 10 years, particularly in rural areas far from traditional immigration hubs, has left school districts across the country desperately short of people qualified to teach them English, school and government officials say.

The number of students with limited English skills, most of them Hispanic, has doubled, to five million in the last decade, data from the United States Department of Education show. That is more than four times the rate for the general student population, according to the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, a federally financed nonprofit organization.

The number of qualified teachers for bilingual or English-as-a-second-language classes - already in chronic short supply - has not kept pace. Market Data Retrieval, a group that keeps national education statistics, has counted 50,000 such teachers in the United States , or one for every 100 students with limited English skills.

If students with limited English skills were to be taught in classes of the average national size - about 17 pupils per teacher - up to 290,000 teachers would be needed for them, said Dr. Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, a Harvard education professor and an expert on immigrant children.

"We are now in the largest wave of immigration in the history of the United States ," Dr. Suarez-Orozco said. "This is not just a New York issue, or a Boston issue, or a Los Angeles issue," Dr. Suarez-Orozco said. "It's a national issue."

The need for teachers of English as a second language has grown most rapidly in school districts in the South, Midwest and Northwest. North Carolina , whose farms and factories have drawn thousands of Latino immigrants in recent years, has had the fastest growth of students with limited English skills. The number of such students in the state has more than quintupled since 1993, to 52,500 from 8,900. The populations of such students in Idaho , Nebraska , Alabama , Tennessee , South Carolina and Georgia have at least tripled since 1993.

Many of these districts, particularly those in rural areas with few native-born bilingual residents, are offering bonuses, loans and other incentives to teachers, and in some cases poaching from neighboring districts.

"Educators have started to realize that this is not just a blip on the map," said Delia Pompa , the executive director of the National Association of Bilingual Education.

The urgency of their searches is compounded this year by new federal legislation requiring students with limited English skills to take standardized assessment tests by next spring. Most states now exempt such students, and including their scores with those of other students could drag down a school's performance, with potentially dire consequences. The new legislation, for example, allows parents beginning this fall to remove their children from schools designated as failing, moving state and local dollars with them.

School recruiters interviewed in Washington State, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kansas said that while many regular teaching vacancies can attract 100 applicants or more, openings for teachers of English as a second language, or E.S.L., rarely attract more than one or two.

Rural communities and small cities are devising ingenious ways to recruit teachers. Some districts in North Carolina try to persuade landlords and utility companies to waive deposits for them. A district in Utah offers $2,000 bonuses. Kentucky forgives some student loans. Recruiters from Denver have trekked to Mexico .

Many districts have also designed "grow our own" projects to train high school and college students, teaching aides and even immigrant parents to teach English as a second language and, more rarely, bilingual classes.

Students of English as a second language study subjects like math, science and social studies in English, often in regular classrooms, while learning English intensively for a few periods a day, tutored in individual or small-group pullout sessions. Students in bilingual classes are taught the subjects in their native languages. Because it is difficult to find people able to teach subjects in other languages outside the nation's immigrant hubs, few states offer true bilingual education.

Carol Theesfeld , the director of English as a second language and bilingual education for the Kenosha , Wis. , school district, says she never goes on a vacation - particularly to the Southwest - without her business cards.

Ms. Theesfeld , whose district's population of students with limited English skills doubled in the last four years, to more than 400, says she approaches college-age people she meets and asks if they study education. "You never know," she said, chuckling about her desperation. "You might find a teacher this way."

Ms. Theesfeld also recruits at more than a dozen education conferences, at universities in Wisconsin and Illinois , at ethnic festivals like Milwaukee 's annual Mexican Fiesta and at restaurants.

Occasionally, some Wisconsin districts have created tensions by poaching teachers from neighboring districts, said Narciso Aleman , a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater who maintains close ties with recruiters in surrounding districts.

"There are raids between districts," Dr. Aleman said. "The recruiters would offer better pay, shorter hours, smaller classes, all-expense-paid trips to national E.S.L. conferences - anything they can to attract certified teachers."

Here in Duplin County , N.C. , Hispanic immigrant children make up nearly a third of the 700 students at Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary School , a one-story brick building next to a turkey processing plant. Their parents have come from Mexico and Honduras to pick tobacco, feed and breed the hogs and pack turkey meat.

"Some people here think they shouldn't be here and let's send them back to where they came from," said Darrell Grubbs, the principal. "But the reality is , they are going to stay. And if they are going to stay, we've got to educate their children."

In explaining this point to resentful residents, Mr. Grubbs does not cite the United States Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Plyler v. Doe, in which the court ruled that public schools must educate all children, whether they are in the country legally or not. He simply says that these children are going to enter the work force some day and pay " your Social Security."

Seeing the increasing likelihood that every teacher at some point will encounter a student for whom English is a second language, a small number of principals have required all their teachers to take some E.S.L. education classes.

Close to $400 million was funneled in 2000 through the federal Office of Bilingual Education, since renamed the Office of English Language Acquisition, to help districts put candidates through college or night classes to receive E.S.L. or bilingual licenses. This year, the office plans to hand out $665 million in grants.

The University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, along with its surrounding school districts, is one recipient. Its "grow our own" project has recruited dozens of teacher's aides already working in the districts, most lacking college degrees, to enroll in tuition-free classes to earn a bachelor's degree and an E.S.L. license. The school also courts local high school and college students showing an interest in this kind of education.

The strategy might just reduce the high teacher turnover rates, administrators from the nearby Janesville school district say. Rural and small-town school districts, they say, have found it hard to beat the excitement offered by bigger cities like Madison and Milwaukee .

In Fort Atkinson , Wis. , a small town tucked in soybean and corn fields, Vicki Wright, the district's English-as-a-second-language coordinator, answers telephone calls frequently from panicky teachers encountering non-English-speaking students for the first time.

Ms. Wright, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1970's, recalled some of the questions: " ` How do I grade them? They don't speak English.' `What kind of assignment should I give them?' `How do I modify my tests for them?' "

She said she also tries to correct a misunderstanding among teachers, most of whom grew up in a place previously populated almost exclusively by descendants of Polish, German and Scandinavian immigrants. The district, which had eight non-English-speaking students two years ago, has 65 today.

"The regular teachers' attitude often is, let's hand the E.S.L. student to the E.S.L. teacher and say, `Here is an E.S.L. student. Now fix him.' " Ms . Wright said.

"Now, what would you do if he were your own child?" she asked. "They're not just the E.S.L. teachers' kids. They're everybody's kids."


Appendix H: The State of ESL in K-12 Education: A Short Summary

By James H. Robinson

According to the New York Times, we need many more ESL teachers in the K-12 system in the US . The US has 5 million K-12 students who need ESL instruction but only 50,000 K-12 ESL teachers for a 1 to 100 ratio. The same article indicated that as many as 290,000 ESL teachers are needed to serve the K-12 ESL population in the US . According to CFL data, Minnesota has about 50,000 K-12 students who need ESL services with about 950 FTE ESL teachers providing ESL instruction for a ratio of about 1 to 50While we are in much better shape in Minnesota than the nation as a whole, we still have problems with ESL instruction. For example, as many as 40% of the ESL teachers in the State are teaching ESL under some form of emergency licensing as they gain full licensing through university course work. Additionally, some districts have very high concentrations of students who need ESL services: in the St. Paul District 40% of the total student population need ESL services. In other words, as ESL students numbers have increased, we have a large number of under-prepared ESL teachers when every teacher in some districts need preparation in working with ESL students.

In the State, ten universities and colleges provide ESL teacher licensing programs with most of the teachers coming from Hamline University , MSU-Mankato, the University of Minnesota and SCSU. SCSU has about 50 graduates who have finished the license. We currently have about 130 graduate and undergraduate students taking course work in TESL. Four years ago, we only had about 50 students. Ten years ago we had a handful of students. Of the students today, about 35 are teaching ESL in Minnesota under one or another form of emergency licensing and taking the program as part time students. We also have had international students hired in other states for K-12 ESL jobs even though they have only completed the MA in TESL without teacher licensing in ESL. In other words, the US is importing ESL teachers to cope with the huge demand for ESL teachers in the K-12 system.

To meet this demand, the program at SCSU is offered for non-traditional and traditional students. Most of the course work is offered in evening and through ITV so that anyone in the State can have access. We hope to begin offering courses online in 2003-2004. The K-12 ESL license program requires 28 credits of course work in TESL, 34 credits from the secondary education sequence that include student teaching, and 8 credits of foreign language. In other words, it requires fewer credits than almost any other license in Minnesota .

Three categories of students are enrolled in the program: 1) full time graduate students, 2) part time graduate students, and 3) undergraduates. About 45 full time graduate students complete the program in two years of course work. Those without prior licensing in other areas complete 22 credits of Education courses along with 28 credits on TESL courses. About 55 students complete the program as part-time students in three to four years. Most of these students have a license in another area and are able to finish the 28 credits of TESL course work and the to provide evidence of equivalent experience for student teaching in ESL within the three year period. Students who only have a BA and without any teaching license need to complete 50 to 58 credits of course work and need to also provide equivalent experience for student teaching. Specifically, BA recipients need to complete at least 22 credits from the education sequence in addition to the 28 credits of TESL course work. Students without any high school or college foreign language would also need to take 8 credits in this area to meet licensure requirements. These students have typically required one year of full time study with three years of part time study to complete the ESL license. About 30 full time undergraduates are enrolled in the program although not all of them are seeking K-12 ESL licensing. Most of these students complete a 40 credit combined BA in Linguistics and BS minor in ESL, 34 credits of secondary education sequence, and up 8 credits of foreign along with their other college course work within a four year period of time.

SCSU classes are overflowing with students, and we are currently 1.33 FTE faculty members short of meeting current student demand. At present, we provide ten TESL courses in Fall and in Spring and three during the summer, but we have student demand for eight more sections a year. We have eight faculty members from the English Department and the Department of Teacher Development who teach in the program, but because these faculty teach other courses and have other administrative duties, their course load output is slightly more than three faculty FTE. For example, some faculty members have other teaching assignments. The two teacher development faculty members only teach one course each in the program, as they are needed to teach block courses in their department. One English department faculty member has a joint appointment in foreign languages where he teaches one course per term. One English department faculty member also teaches on other areas in the department. Three faculty members also teach five sections a year of a service TESL course for secondary education majors. For administrative work, one of the faculty members is the chair of English and so only teaches two courses a year. Another faculty member teaches two courses a year less than full time FTE because of administrative duties related to the directorship of the Intensive English Center . And yet another faculty member teaches two course less a year than full time FTE as the TESL director, the person who recruits students into this program and then advises them until they have completed the program.

Funding for this program has been from FTE generation. As our student FTEs have increased, the program has grown from two full-time English department and two part time Teacher Development professors to the eight professors teaching in the program today.

Student funding has come from traditional sources. School districts fund about 35 students in the program when they hire them as ESL teachers under either variances or limited licenses. The students get a paycheck and then pay their tuition from it. Graduate assistantships fund 36 students in program who teach ESL in our College ESL program or our Intensive English Center , or who teach the general education composition course or who tutor in the Write Place on campus. Stipends of $7500 to $8000 and partial tuition waivers pay most of the cost for these students to go to school. Some students have also had their tuition and books paid by the Multicultural Educators program at SCSU. Lastly, many students take out loans in order to finance their education.

At present, we need more professors to teach in the program, more release time to recruit and to advise students in the program, and more money to support students in their studies. First, in order to meet student demand this year, we should hire one or two new faculty with specializations in K-12 ESL. If the program continues to grow, we would need a new faculty as our graduate and undergraduate student enrollments increase by 25. Second, in order to provide student support services for this program at present and to assist in its growth, the TESL Director needs to have his release time increased from one-third to two-thirds. In addition, the extra duty days assigned to the TESL director need to be increased from 5 to 25 to allow for summer recruiting and advising. Third, we need more money for students to complete the program. More funds for graduate assistantships are needed. Also, we need more support for programs such as the Intensive English Center , which generates almost half of the assistant money today from soft money sources.

Another need would to provide a fast track program that would allow students to complete the program in 15 months. Such a program would need the cooperation of school district where the university could place interns who would teach half time or full time as they complete their courses. This internship would then replace student teaching. For such a Fast Track Program in TESL, we would need to look at using TESL courses in English and Teacher Development to substitute for Education Sequence courses. For example, English 661, second language acquisition, and English 667, assessment, evaluation and testing, could be used instead of EDR 262 and 361. Also, a combination of ED 557 and558, and English 561, 562 or 662 might be used to substitute for ED 521, 531, 541 for interns in a fast track. These course substitutions along with the internships could reduce the 62 credits of TESL and education sequence courses to 38 credits, which could be completed at the graduate level in two semesters and two summers. Money to pay for the internships and to pay for tuition and books for this fast track may attract students away from the slow track program mentioned above that can take three to four years.

Appendix I: K-12 ESL Licensure Undergraduate Program:
St. Cloud State University

Prerequisite: English 361 B Introduction to Linguistics, 4 cr.

Linguistics: choose one

English 464: English Syntax, 3 cr.
English 465: History of the English Language, 3 cr.

Language and Culture: choose three

English 463: ESL and Culture, 3 cr.
English 466: American English, 3 cr.
English 469: Topics in Linguistics, 3 cr.
ED 457: Bilingual-Bicultural Education, 3 cr.

Methods and Applied Linguistics: choose three

English 461: TESL Theory and Methods, 3 cr.
English 462: TESL Methods: Reading and Writing, 3 cr.
English 467: Assessment, Evaluation and Testing, 3 cr.
ED 458: Literacy for Second Language Learners, 3 cr.

Electives: Choose one of the above courses

For more information, contact:
James H. Robinson, Ph. D.

Appendix J: PreK-12, 5-12 Education Sequence:
St. Cloud State University

36 credits

3cr ED 300 Teaching in Middle Schools and High Schools
3cr CEEP 361 Introduction to Educational Psychology (CEEP 262 pre-req)
2cr IM 422 Information, Technology and Learning for PreK-12, 5-12 Education
3cr HURL 497 Human Relations & the Teacher I (HURL 498 pre-req)
1cr HURL 498 Human Relations & the Teacher II (HURL Speakers Series)
2cr HLTH 301 Health Issues and Strategies for Teachers
2cr ENGL/ED 460 Teaching English Language Learners in K-12 Classrooms
2cr SPED 425 Teaching K-12 Students with Special Needs
2cr ED 421 Foundations of Education
2cr ED 431 Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
2cr ED 441 Integrating Theory & Practice
12cr ED 467 Student Teaching for K-12 Licensure

Appendix K: A Brief History of ESL Testing and Programming at SCSU: 1985 through 1998

by James H. Robinson, Ph. D
TESL Director


This report provides an overview of the ESL testing and ESL curriculum at SCSU for the last fifteen years. It does not include a description of the IEC, TESL summer programs, or TESL teacher education programs at SCSU. It is written at the request of Vice President Williams conveyed to me through Mr. Myron Umerski . I have heard informally that two administrative initiatives that involve ESL are being considered at this time: summer international admissions and selected international admissions without ESL testing. So, this report is written to put these initiatives in historical perspective, but does not contain any assessment or evaluative content related to these two initiatives. I should add that the gist of this report will also be presented to the MNSCU ESL Task Force at its March Meeting, as an example of ESL testing and exiting criteria within MNSCU.

From the beginning of ESL testing at St. Cloud State University , the ESL testing program has been part of the ESL curriculum process in the English department with supervision by a TESL professor who was hired with specific responsibilities to supervise these programs and to advise the university on issues related to the ESL curriculum and ESL testing.

Within this context, the major highlights of the program have been:

  • a program based on recommendations from a TESL external reviewer:
    • to establish the ESL testing and ESL course work connection, and
    • to hire an ESL Director with professional credentials;
    program development through ten years of successful cooperation across the university:
    • with CIS on summer ESL testing and course offerings,
    • with both undergraduate and graduate admissions on substitutes for the TOEFL, and
    • with administration and faculty for ESL curriculum development and for the 475 undergraduate admission standard on TOEFL;

    ESL testing procedures that are based on research and practice in the field:
    • with clear-cut exceptions, and
    • with provisions for Honors Program admission for international students;
    data that give evidence of a highly successful program:
    • research findings on ESL testing and ESL reading and writing courses,
    • faculty complaints about international students, and
    • international student reactions to ESL testing.

The Beginning of ESL Programming at SCSU

Before my arrival in 1989, the university made a commitment to professionalize ESL courses and testing. This commitment was initiated with the 1985 external review of the ESL program. The review was begun because of two problems: 1) faculty complaints about international students who did not have the English language proficiency needed for college work, and 2) English department faculty evaluations that the previous ESL program was not meeting the needs of the students or the university. The reviewer suggested two alternatives: 1) raise the admission TOEFL score to 525 for undergraduate admission, or 2) establish an ESL testing program that was attached to college-level ESL courses. The university chose the latter course and followed a further suggestion of the reviewer: to hire a TESL professional with a Ph. D. as no one in the department at that time had the qualifications to run such a program.

The English department searched and hired the first ESL Director in the Fall of 1986. This position included extra duty days for ESL testing. The first director set up six ESL courses at the 100 and 200 level with numbers directly corresponding to foreign language course numbers. In other words, these courses were set up as foreign language courses for non-native users of English as opposed to remedial courses with numbers under 100. ESL testing was integrally tied to these course proposals, as these tests provided the answer to the question: what student population will enroll in ESL courses? Essentially, the student population for the ESL courses comes from the students who do not pass the ESL tests. Typically, these tests have included three components: 1) a listening test, 2) a reading test, and 3) a writing test. At that time, I believe that the university lawyer determined that we could require all international students who were new to St. Cloud State to take this placement test, but that we could not require these tests as either admission or placement tests for linguistic minority students who reside in the United States . Additionally, exceptions were made for international students who were from English speaking countries: Great Britain , etc. A number of years later, the university lawyer did agree that we could test Francophone Canadians (mostly hockey players) but not Anglophone Canadians (our largest English speaking international population).

Program Stabilization

After a two -year tenure for the first director, two adjuncts supervised the program in 1988-89. In the following ten years, three different TESL professionals have been hired to supervise ESL testing. I was hired as the second ESL Director and joined the faculty in 1989-90. Marya Teutsch-Dwyer was hired as the IEC director with responsibility for ESL testing in 1996, and I retained the supervision of the ESL curriculum. Russ Arent was then hired in 1998 as the College ESL Director and currently is in charge of both the ESL testing and ESL curriculum process. All of these individuals were hired with extra duty days designated for ESL testing.

During my tenure as ESL Director, I continued to administer the ESL testing and ESL curriculum programs in tandem as they were intended. All academic decisions about these two programs were made by me in this role as ESL director. CIS, graduate studies, undergraduate admissions, or academic affairs would call me if they had any questions and any proposals that involved the ESL area. This pattern of behavior with consultation and cooperation has continued to the present the writing of this summary. For example, Roland Fischer, when he was Director of CIS, approached me about summer admissions and about ESL testing. For a number of years we had no summer testing, but when the international student numbers grew to such an extent that rolling them over from summer to fall was a problem, we initiated ESL testing in the summer and also provided summer courses taught either by me or by TAs. When CIS decided to stop summer admissions, I was also consulted.

In another example, Sid Parham, as the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, called and asked for a position statement on the TOEFL for international students who had graduated from US institutions of higher learning. I formulated a simple policy: if the international student met the academic admission standards with course work from a US college or university, then that student met the English language proficiency standards for graduate work at St. Cloud State University . I should add that SCSU graduates who then entered graduate programs at SCSU were also exempted from a second ESL testing, as they entered their graduate program.

In another example, the records officer charged with international admissions, from Keith Rauch to Jeff Houdek to Sue Bayerl, would call regularly about how international students could meet the undergraduate English proficiency admission standard when these students had not taken the TOEFL. I recently codified all the ways that we allowed students to establish that they met the admission standards for undergraduate and graduate admission at SCSU. Russ Arent has reviewed, revised, and forwarded this information to Sue Bayerl for undergraduate and Dennis Nunes for graduate admissions, so that they can use these alternatives without referring to the College ESL Director constantly. As a result of these alternatives, about half the new international students at SCSU are now admitted without taking a TOEFL.

Two more complex examples of this interaction are the two major changes in the ESL testing and curriculum at St. Cloud State University . The first change was the professionalization of the orientation course for international students. This course was originally taught by the Dean of Students, Pat Potter, as a special section of Orientation 150. When she retired, Roland Fischer, the CIS Director, asked me as the ESL Director to come up with a program to replace it. The result was the curriculum proposals that created ESL 150 under quarters and now ESL 150 and ESL 151 under semesters.

Another example of this interaction was the change in the TOEFL requirement for undergraduate admission from 500 to 475. At that time, the international student population at SCSU was barely above 100 students. With a little of the fire of idealism, I wanted to eliminate the TOEFL requirement for admission one step at a time. One result could have been establishing an intensive English program within the curriculum and matching the course numbers with the four year program in foreign languages; this change might have even resulted in a second major program in ESL for international students. With more practicality in mind, I also believed that this change would increase the number of international students at SCSU. In my experience with AID, World Bank and Asian Development Bank Projects in Indonesia, I found that academic achievement in a graduate program and English language proficiency were not as closely related as one would normally assume: those who had high proficiency in English were not necessarily highly qualified in an academic field, and those who were highly qualified in an academic field were not necessarily highly proficient in English. From this perspective, lowering the TOEFL to 475 would then allow us to recruit academically qualified students who did not as yet have the English language proficiency that was normally required in the US . ESL testing and the ESL curriculum insured that these students would be given the appropriate help needed for retention and final graduation.

The first step in attracting this new group of students was to lower the standard to 475. I called the Director of CIS, Roland Fischer, and discussed the possibility. I also spoke with the FAH Dean, Michael Connaughton, and then with the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Linda Lamwers . Dr. Lamwers then took the proposal to Meet and Confer as an administrative initiative, and after it was discussed at two different meetings, the change was agreed upon by both faculty and administration. In the end practicality won over idealism, and the TOEFL was not eliminated as an admission standard for SCSU. A major barrier to eliminating the TOEFL was that faculty hiring policy does not provide for MA level TESL professionals to teach ESL courses long term.

Instead, we developed the Intensive English Center to open up access to SCSU to academically qualified students who do not meet either the undergraduate standard of 475 or the graduate standard of 550. For the most recent group of new international students in Spring 1999, Russ Arent reported the following unofficially that for the 123 new international students: only 24% had a TOEFL score of over 525, only 36% had a TOEFL score of over 500, 23% had TOEFL between 475 and 500, and 41% did not take the TOEFL. While I would guess that Fall data would report higher TOEFLs than Spring data, this data still indicates that the 475 plus ESL testing program at SCSU has an extremely positive influence on recruiting new international students to SCSU. If we had had a TOEFL requirement of 525 without any other provisions proving English language proficiency, 93 of these 123 students or 76% would not have been admitted to St. Cloud State . If we had had a TOEFL requirement of 500, only 44 students would have been admitted based on their TOEFL scores. These figures are almost identical to the international student numbers at SCSU before the change to the 475 plus ESL testing system. Within this system, we would have far fewer international students now, and a goal of 900 international students on campus would be totally unrealistic.

In other words, the system of 475 plus ESL testing is a major factor in recruiting new international students and probably second only to the cost benefits received from in-state tuition grants. Additionally, at a Fall 1998 meeting that included three TESL professionals, the Graduate School Dean, the Director of Records and Registration, and the International Student Admissions Officer, it was agreed that the TOEFL would no longer be used as the first criterion for accepting or rejecting either graduate or undergraduate applications to SCSU. Rather, the International Student Admissions Officer for undergraduate and the Graduate Dean for graduate would first review the student = s academic record to determine if the student meets academic admission standards and then look at the TOEFL to determine whether the student should be admitted to the IEC first or directly to an SCSU graduate or undergraduate program.

Since the conditional admission to SCSU was introduced and approved through the Meet and Confer process, students who graduate from the IEC program with a required GPA constitute another group that is exempt from the SCSU placement testing. Students who are admitted to the IEC program are placed into one of its levels on the basis of the Michigan test and a composition test. The testing procedures applied to the IEC students resemble those applied to students who enter SCSU directly. The placement of students into particular levels is closely monitored and done according to the entrance requirements to SCSU degree programs. Although data on academic success of IEC graduates is not complete, we know that the majority of those who completed the IEC program have achieved a GPA of over 3.0, and in some cases 3.6 and above.

ESL Testing Procedures

For this whole period of ESL testing, we have relied on the TOEFL standard for admission decisions, but used other tests for placement decisions. This practice reflects the state of the art of testing in the TESL field. TOEFL is a language proficiency exam that is used for admission standards. It is not a placement test, as its accuracy is less than desirable for such purposes. Also, it is not an achievement test that could be used effectively for pre-test/post-test assessment or research designs. While most universities use a TOEFL cut-off score for admission, this practice is actually condemned even in ETS literature. The TOEFL score more accurately represents a range than a point. In terms of test score assurity , 66% assurity would give you a 14 point plus and minus range for any TOEFL score. For 99% assurity , the range would be about 30 points in either direction. In practical terms, with 99% assurity , a 500 score represents a language proficiency between 470 and 530. Put another way, one out of a hundred students who score a 500 actually have a language proficiency as low as 470. Consequently, the 1985 external reviewer recommended a 525 TOEFL admission standard if SCSU wanted to guarantee that all new international students had not only scored over 500, but actually had the language proficiency of a 500 score. At St. Cloud State , the 475 admission standard then means that the students who meet this score have an English language proficiency between 445 and 505. Placement tests are then used to assess more accurately the English language proficiency needs of the new students.

At present, ESL testing includes three different tests: 1) a writing sample, 2) the ALIGU listening test, and 3) the Michigan (grammar, vocabulary and reading). The writing sample is the best predictor of these three tests. Our writing sample is written in one hour and requires the correct use of development, organization, grammar, vocabulary, and mechanics. It is graded by two trained readers using an adaptation of the Jacobs Scale, which is standard in TESL testing practice. The students must have an average score of 80 to pass the test. If one reader grades the student above 80 and one below, a third reader grades the test. Research on testing in TESL shows that holistic tests such as writing samples are much more accurate in assessing language skills than standardized tests such as TOEFL. Research also shows that these holistic tests better predict academic success by international students than standardized tests such as TOEFL. Both of the other two tests, the ALIGU listening test and the Michigan , are old tests dating from the 1960s and need to be replaced when suitable alternatives are found. A score of 80 on each test is passing. The listening test is actually too easy in content, but also easy to administer. The Michigan is too hard in content and is a grueling test to take. While it is a language proficiency rather than a placement test, it is more accurate than the TOEFL. It has been used by universities across the country as a placement test, or at the least, as a check on the TOEFL, which is taken under conditions that universities themselves do not control. Interestingly enough, the Michigan also predicts academic success for international students in at least one important course at SCSU, as I will relate in my detail below.

Under the present system, all new international students are required to take the TESL Tests upon arrival at SCSU as per the undergraduate and graduate bulletin descriptions and as per university information packets sent to all new international students. We have made only three exceptions that have been mentioned above: 1) international students who are from other English speaking countries and for whom English is not a second language, 2) SCSU undergraduates who have pursued a graduate degree at SCSU, and 3) graduates of the IEC, as they are placed directly into the ESL curriculum based on the exiting criteria in the IEC. Even the high TOEFL and GRE scoring students who are accepted into the TESL MA program are required to take these tests. These students are an elite group. Many of them have been English teachers for ten or even twenty years in their home countries. They have already submitted expository prose writing samples and in many cases have been offered teaching assistantships that could include teaching in the ESL curriculum. More than likely these students will be readers for the writing test the following year. Still, we think that it is important that these students be included in ESL testing, and we have had one students required to take ESL courses as a result of ESL testing.

Another by-product of the ESL tests has been the selection of international students into the honors program. David Boyer, the former Honors Director, approached me several years ago to brainstorm ideas to recruit academically qualified international students into the Honors Program. We worked out a system where we gave Dr. Boyer a list of students who had a higher level of English proficiency as judged by the TESL tests. The higher level was determined by three scores: 1) a 90 on the writing sample, 2) a 90 on the listening test, and 3) a 90 on the Michigan . Borderline students were also referred to him for consideration with a lower priority. Dr. Boyer then reviewed the academic record of these students and then discussed the possibility of honors enrollment with the individual students. In the three years that these procedures were used, Dr. Boyer never complained to us about these procedures or about any international students who entered the Honors Program.

Research on ESL Programming

The system that has been developed over the last decade works according to the research that has been completed on the effectiveness of ESL testing and the ESL curriculum. Four different graduate students in TESL have conducted research on three different components of the ESL curriculum with two studies completed. One student reported that the ESL testing and writing program was successful in meeting the needs of international students. She found that international students and American students had comparable grades in freshman composition. She then compared two groups of students: 1) international students who passed the ESL writing test, and 2) international students who were required to take ESL writing. The results showed that international students who took the ESL writing courses later had grades in freshman composition that were statistically identical to those who passed the ESL writing test. Actually, the 135 randomly chosen students who took ESL writing had a slightly higher average GPA in English 162 at 3.09 compared to 2.81 for a similar group of 135 who had passed the ESL writing test. The three D = s and one F grade in English 162 for these students were from students who had passed the ESL writing test. These results suggest both that for the most part the ESL writing test passes qualified students and that the ESL writing courses help those students who did not pass to gain the skills required in freshman composition.

Another student looked at the ESL reading curriculum. He also found that most international students had grades that were similar to American in most of the course work at SCSU. In general, the students who tested out of ESL reading had the same grades or better as American students across the curriculum, but the situation was more complex for the students who did not pass the reading test. For most courses this second group of students achieved the same grades or better as American students after they completed the required ESL reading course, but for some courses they did not. Specifically, those students who did not pass the Michigan test had statistically significant lower grades in Business Law and American Studies than either American students or international students who had passed the test. This result was particularly important for Business Law, which is a prerequisite for all business majors. At the same time, it means that the Michigan predicts success in Business Law for international students. A third student has collected data but not completed the analysis of ESL 150: Cultural Orientation for International Students. A fourth is doing a survey of differences in definitions and attitudes toward A cheating @ by international and US students. This last thesis was in response to faculty complaints about certain groups of international students cheating in specific courses.

Faculty Complaints

Other evidence also suggests that the system works. Faculty complaints across the university about English language skills of international students are minor. Complaints by English department faculty are generally explained by poor attendance or effort and not by a lower level of competence in English writing. Otherwise, we have had complaints from three specific departments. In the mid-1990s, American studies called and related that many international students had difficulty with the general education American studies program. The above mentioned research gave evidence to the validity of this complaint. Our response was to advise international students not to take these courses, as they do not have the requisite background knowledge of American culture to participate fully in these courses. The MBA program complained that international students were having communication problems in their course work. Our response was to hire a TESL professional with an undergraduate degree in business to work with Business on this and other related issues. One related issue was a specific complaint from Business Law professors who said that international students made up the largest group of D and F students in their classes. This complaint led to the above mentioned study on ESL reading, as these professors thought that the international students did not have the reading skills in English.

International Student Reactions to ESL Programming

In addition, student reactions to ESL testing and the ESL curriculum are quite interesting. While initial reactions vary from positive to negative, long term reactions tend to be more positive. Even though the students are informed that these tests will be taken upon their arrival and that the tests may require that the students will take ESL courses, it is not a pleasant activity after a long trip and on their first day at SCSU.

Most negative reactions have been from students who were shocked by the results of the tests. In general, fatigue may be a significant factor in test results that are lower than the competence of the student, and so result in these negative reactions. This fatigue factor is directly related to always testing the new international students on their first day of orientation at SCSU. In particular, the students who have transferred freshman composition to SCSU but then failed the ESL writing test have had the most complaints. In 1993, I surveyed this population and determined that 75% of these students were required to take ESL writing after their first ESL writing test. Protesting students are generally given the option of retesting before the next term and postponing the ESL writing requirement until after that time. About half of the protesters eventually passed the ESL writing test. Most students take the ESL writing class. The most common response is that the ESL writing class at SCSU was more academically demanding than the freshman composition class that the student took at a community college. Test anxiety also results in a number of students who do not pass the exam. In these cases, we have offered a student an opportunity to retest, and retesting has generally solved the problem.

Positive reactions are both immediate and long term. Some students are simply pleased to see how they perform on such a test. These students want to know more about their English ability and generally understand that the ESL courses are designed to help them. About thirty students a year express the most extremely positive reaction, when they discover that the results of the ESL tests can save them from either paying non-resident tuition or from going out of status with the INS. These students have enrolled in SCSU courses that they are not academically prepared to take and are faced with a dilemma: 1) get a D or an F in the class and lose the in-state tuition grant as their GPAs fall below 2.5 or 2) drop the class and fall below full time student status of 12 semester credits, or put another way, threaten their student status with INS. Through credit by examination, the ESL tests have been used to present a third choice that solves these problems for international students. If a student tested out of an ESL course, then we use the ESL tests to process credits by examination for that student. The student then can drop the course with the failing grade and still stay in status. To this date, almost every student faced with this dilemma has solved this problem because of the results of ESL testing.

One very interesting response to the ESL tests and the ESL curriculum was reported by MSU-Akita students. The administration at MSU-Akita was not happy that their students needed to take this exam, but after they talked with their graduates this displeasure disappeared. The MSU-Akita transfer students explained to their former teachers that they did not take the ESL tests seriously or, you could say, A flunked @ them on purpose. As it was explained to me, the main reason behind the student logic was that these students needed one term of cushion before they enrolled in a full load of major courses. It should be remembered that these students have passed a rigorous ESL curriculum and two years of general education courses in Japan , but in English. Still, this cushion was needed so that these students could adjust to the faster-paced speech of the lecture classroom at SCSU. The general education faculty at MSU-Akita have tended to teach to their audience and to slow down their lecture delivery, while at SCSU the pace of speech in lectures and discussions is much faster.

For all international students, I also believe strongly that the ESL courses required as a result of ESL testing help them to survive their first term at SCSU. All of our ESL professors and Teaching Assistants are sensitive to the needs of international students, and at the same time, they are prepared to help international students master the academic culture of SCSU as well as the subject matter of a specific ESL class. Without this testing program and curriculum, the retention rate for international students would be lower.

Another by-product of this testing system and curriculum is its contribution to an integrated international student life at SCSU. The international student life at SCSU is unique among all the colleges and universities that I have studied at, taught at or even heard of. It is unique in that there is more interaction between international students of different nationalities than on any other campus that I have heard of. For example, on other campuses the Malaysian students have three student associations along ethnic lines, but at St. Cloud State , we have only one such group. The same is also true for the Chinese students on campus. More importantly, most international student groups have members from other countries actively involved and in some cases elected to positions in these associations. I believe strongly that this spirit of integration begins with the ESL testing which everyone has to do and continues with friendships developed through interactions with students from other countries in the ESL classes. In his journal last week, one of my students wrote about how he was annoyed to have to take the ESL Orientation classes even though he passed the ESL tests. He then wrote that he now thought the classes were very important, as he was learning how to thrive in another culture and how to communicate effectively with other international students from other countries.

In Sum

Over the last fifteen years at least, the pattern of behavior has been that every decision about ESL or TESL has been made by the TESL faculty in the English department, as these faculty members are the only individuals at SCSU with the professional expertise in this area. In all this time, no one in the administration has ever over-ruled or made changes to these decisions at SCSU. The results have been positive, have contributed to the recruitment and the retention of international students as SCSU, and have made some contribution to the internationalization of both the academic and social life of all of us at SCSU. With over a century of experience in the TESL/Linguistics fields and with international experience that includes Africa , East Asia , Eastern and Western Europe , Latin America , the Middle East , and Southeast Asia between the eight TESL/linguistics faculty in English and Teacher Development, we feel confident that there is no challenge in our field that we cannot meet. I can assure anyone that, just as with the above mentioned initiatives on campus to improve the recruitment and retention of international students, all the TESL faculty will be pleased to provide the appropriate advice in the ESL area that will further contribute to these two goals.

Appendix L: Report on the 1997 Akita Summer ESL Program

by James H. Robinson
Program Director

During the 1997 Akita Summer ESL Program, 60 Japanese high school students and four Japanese English teachers visited St. Cloud State University for three weeks to participate in English learning activities organized for them by a staff of 18 from the university within a budget of a little more than $100,000. In general, this summer = s program was a success because every student was able to learn something new about English and American culture and because every student was able to enjoy doing at least one new activity in the US . As one teacher put it, "No student was isolated or alone on this program." Indeed, I believe that many of the students learned quite a bit about how to use English and about life in America and that only a few students had a negative experience in any single activity. The program was also a success because of what we learned about improving the quality of the student experience during this program. After outlining recommendations for next year = s program, this report will review the major components of the Akita Summer ESL Program: the ESL classes, the workshop program for the Japanese English teachers, group activities, mentor activities, and logistics.

Recommendations for Next Year

The summary that follows these recommendations will provide the background and rationale for the recommendation listed below:

  1. As much as possible, the 60 students should be recruited in five group with 12 same-age students in each group so that we do not have mixed-age mentor groups or mixed-age ESL classes;
  2. Mentor groups should be composed of six students: either six females or four females and two males;
  3. During the final week, we take a weekday to make an educational trip to the Twin Cities to visit museums, and place of historical interest;
  4. We hire a mentor coordinator next year;
  5. We use Bruce Holschuh to recruit mentors from the pool of Minnesota students who have either returned from MSU-A or who are planning to go;
  6. More information be provided at the orientation in Japan, and in particular, about the amount of spending money the students should bring and the currency exchange problems in St. Cloud; and
  7. We need to coordinate the funding of this program so that the cash flow problems this year do not interfere with future programs.

Summary of This Year' s Program

ESL Classes

The evaluations of the students, the ESL teachers and the Japanese English teachers all suggest that the interactive format of the ESL classes in the program was very successful. Whenever the students actively used language, the classes were great. Whenever the ESL teachers talked too much, they were less effective. Table 1 provides ratings that students and ESL teachers provided about the ESL classes. A comparison of the classes during each week reveals that the first week was rated best by both students and ESL teachers, the second week the second best, and the third week the worst. This result does not mean that the first week is set and that the third week is a problem, but that student interest is highest during the first and second weeks and weakest in the last week. The Japanese teachers reported positive feedback from the students in their daily journals about most of the ESL classes. They did suggest that we expand the home stay preparation and eliminate the class on careers and the recipe or cooking class. So, we will change one class during Week Two to focus more on preparation for the home stay. We will also make changes in the last week, as everyone had trouble with the lesson on careers--what will you do when you graduate from school.

We did find a model lesson for this program. For example in the restaurant lesson, first, the students worked with vocabulary using typical natural approach methods. Second, the students developed and worked with a dialogue between a waiter and a customer in their own classroom for one of five restaurants--with the specific menus--in St. Cloud . Third, we organized the five classrooms into five different restaurants, and each class moved from one restaurant to another until they had finished the circuit and had ordered in each, each student ordering something different from what was ordered by any other student in the class. Fourth, the students went to dinner in their mentor groups and ordered a dinner meal at one of the five restaurants covered during the ESL classes. This interactive format proved to be very effective in battling jet lag and in overcoming the sleepiness of students who stayed up too late the night before. A very similar format was followed by classes on Fast Food, the Mall, and Returns.

While the classes did go well, there were problems. The easiest class to teach was made up of students who were all the same age. The most difficult class to teach was split between juniors and seniors. The ESL teachers and the Japanese English teachers all agreed that teaching same aged Japanese students is easier than mixed aged groups. For some reason this year, four of the five classes were split between two grade levels. In Japan , students never attend classes with students who are older or younger than they are. Even in college, students progress through courses in same age cohorts. The ESL teachers, the Japanese English teachers and the Program Director all agree that our task here would have better results if students were recruited in same age groups of 12. The optimum might be 24 sophomores, 24 juniors, and 12 seniors. This group of twelve would compose one ESL class and then divide into two mentor groups of six.

ESL Workshop for the Japanese English Teachers

This year marked a major change in the program for the Japanese English teachers. In previous years, the Japanese English teachers visited some university classes and observed the ESL classes in this program. This year, the Japanese teachers participated in a three week ESL workshop. In week one, they spent three hours a day in intensive workshops covering the teaching methodology used in the ESL classes. In week two, they observed the ESL classes to see how this methodology was implemented. In week three, the Japanese teachers were coteachers in the ESL classrooms with the ESL teachers. In general, this program worked out very well. It increased the interaction and communication between the ESL teachers and the Japanese teachers, and it provided more input for the Japanese teachers to make their evaluation of the ESL program. The four Japanese English teachers all received certificates for 40 hours of teacher education as a result of this program.

At the same time, this success had costs. First, the Japanese English teachers are extremely busy during these three weeks. They get up early to eat breakfast with the students, participate in the workshops in the morning, go with the students on activities in the afternoon, read journals in the evening and then patrol the halls after curfew to make sure that the students are in their own rooms. This workshop program simply adds to their hectic schedule. Second, the Program Director was also the workshop leader for the Japanese English teachers. His schedule is as busy as the Japanese English teachers. This workshop program was such a positive addition, that it should be continued, and we should try to alleviate the above mentioned problems in other ways.

Group Activities

Most of the whole group activities worked very well. These weekend activities were either large group trips out of town or in town trips when all the students went to the same place together. Table 2 lists these activities by their popularity. As expected, the home stay and the Mall of America were the most highly rated of these activities. Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud and Itasca State Park were also highly rated. These activities will certainly be continued in future years.

Specifically, we were very happy with the success of the home-stay program. This program was not as easy to implement as might be assumed. We actually had emergencies in several families the week before the home-stay that resulted in cancellations. From the evaluations, it is apparent that most of the students had a great time. Individual reports from families were also very positive. The ESL classroom preparation was, for the most part, very useful in preparing the students to introduce themselves, their families, and their country to their Minnesota hosts. Additionally, the questionnaire that was used to match home-stay families with students was very successful in matching interests, such as music, golf, camping, etc. At the same time, about five or six students rated the home-stay very poorly. I am confident that at least one pair of students was not happy with their home-stay arrangements. All and all, this home-stay activity was very successful because the home-stay coordinator did an excellent job of planning this weekend.

Overall, the only problem with these large group activities was the reduction of activities as we had one less weekend to schedule out-of-town activities. The mentors and students wanted to go the Twin Cities for other activities but we did not have the schedule to accommodate these trips. We also do not want mentors on the highway driving with the students, and only want rented buses with professional drivers for such trips. If the students would not be able to come for a third weekend as they did in 1996, I would suggest that we take the Wednesday of the last week and schedule another Twin Cities trip where the students could visit the Science Museum, the Minnesota History Center, the Minneapolis Art Museum, the Capitol Building and may be even a Twins baseball game.

Mentor Group Activities

The mentor group is one of the key components of this project, and as in the past, the relationship between the mentors and the students was an important part of the success of this program. This year the mentor program was a little different than in the past.

First, we did not have a mentor coordinator as we did last year. This year, the Program Director took over the role as mentor coordinator, but this added responsibility was one too many on top of supervising the ESL teachers, teaching the workshops for and mentoring the Japanese English teachers, and overseeing all program activities. Mentor supervision was limited to one 30 minute meeting a day, and this level of supervision proved to be less than adequate for this particular group of mentors, who were all new to the project. To be honest, in our first year, we did not have a mentor coordinator and everything worked out just fine, as the mentors supervised themselves. Last year, we had a mentor coordinator, and while the mentor meetings were long, the end result was good, solid interaction between mentors and students. This year, this interaction did not meet the high standards of the last two years, in my opinion. It is true that every mentor worked very hard and earned his or her money. But according to the Japanese English teachers, the mentors used more Japanese language than they had expected and they took the students to the movies too much. The result was that there was less communication in English between the students and the mentors. While the program director strongly discouraged the use of Japanese by mentors in all but emergency situations and while social activities were also suggested, time did not allow for the follow-up that this group of mentors required. Next year, we will have a mentor coordinator.

The second change this year was that we recruited more Minnesota students with Japanese experience than in the past and in particular students who were either returning from MSU-A or who intended to go to MSU-A. Overall this recruiting idea is a very good one, but it is not without problems. One would guess that returning MSU-A students would be the best mentors. They were not. The returning MSU-A students fell back on their broken Japanese more than was necessary, and the prospective MSU-A were a little too interested in learning Japanese. The best mentors were actually Minnesota students who had international experiences in countries other than Japan or who were international students themselves. Strangely enough, cultural sensitivity developed by an international experience in a country other than Japan proved to be more of a factor in being a good mentor this year than Japanese experience. At the same time, I think that the synergy derived from the interlocking relationships between the MSU-A and this summer program provides enough profit all the way around to continue recruiting from MSU-A returnees and prospective students.

According to the mentor evaluations, the mentor supervised activities were successful because each group was given the freedom to choose or change activities on any day. Some of these whole group activities on the list were successful but some suffered because our group was too large for the facilities: there was a shortage of roller-blades and of ice skates for the Skating Place and Ice Skating. Next year we will have alternating scheduling for these activities so that only half the students participate in one of these activities at a time. We also will continue to allow each mentor group the same type of freedom they had this year. The Japanese English teachers also reported that a six person mentor group is excellent as the students tend to pair off and six means that no one is left alone, as might be the case with five or seven.


In terms of program logistics, we solved some problems from the previous year, but encountered several new problems this year. As in the past, basic logistics were not problem . All the buses were at the right place at the right time, and we always had whatever was needed for any particular activity. Planning and logistics were improved as we could count on 60 students this year. It is difficult to underscore how important it is to have this number of students for this project. We truly hope that this number will be used as the recruitment goal in the future.

One problem last year that was solved this year was that the Japanese English teachers were left without transportation as the mini-vans the mentors drove did not have enough seats to the teachers. This year we simply provided a mini-van and mentor for the Japanese English teachers. I believe the result was that the Japanese English teachers were able to participate more in a broad range of activities and to have a qualitatively better stay in St. Cloud .

This year we did have several problems. We actually had four state vehicles break down on us, and we are just at a loss as to why this happened. Cash flow was another problem. The monies from Akita did not arrive until the first week of classes. As Continuing Studies had no cash flow this year, we could not spend a dime until those monies arrived. The Program Director was out $500 in expenses from his pocket just to keep things going. We need to make sure that this problem does not repeat itself next year.

One other area was also mentioned in the evaluations of the Japanese English teachers and that was the need for more information during the Program Orientation in Japan . For example the Japanese teachers did not know that they were to participate in a teacher education program. As a matter of fact, one of the teachers was not even listed on the documents presented from Japan . The Japanese English teachers thought the paraphrases in Japanese of the speeches given in English missed some points that the students would have liked to hear. The biggest problem, however, was that the students were not informed of the proper amount of money needed for this trip. A number of students ran out of money in St. Cloud , and while the Japanese English teachers provided a temporary solution, we would hope that this problem would not happen again. My guess is that the amount suggested in Japan was in yen and not in dollars, and because of currency changes the students did not have enough money. I make this guess as we did not have such a widespread problem with money in the last two years.

This money problem was somewhat compounded by the fact that the banks in St. Cloud are not used to making international currency exchanges and actually, the banks here charge fees that we would not be charged in a larger city. Students should be told to change all their money in Japan before they come here, as they will lose money on any local exchange. At the same time, we will also try to find a bank that will change yen for dollars without the fees that are currently charged.


One major challenge this year was providing a quality program at reduced costs. We had to about $20,000 less in the budget for 1997 than for 1996. We cut one ESL teacher and changed the class size from 10 students to 12 and so had five instead of six ESL teachers. We cut two mentors and had mentor groups of six rather than five and so ten rather than 12 mentors, and we also discovered that the change was beneficial for more than financial reasons. We cut the mentor coordinator position, and we wished that we had not. We also cut two weekend trips, as the 1997 group had one less weekend, and two weekday afternoon out of town trips. We had also planned for the ESL book to be in black and white, but it was color photocopied by accident. At the same time, we continued to pay for everything that we had paid for in previous years for all scheduled activities. And we also had to hire a home-stay coordinator.

While this activity did not threaten the non-profit status of St. Cloud State University by any stretch of the imagination, it does appear that we were able to pay all our bills and that Continuing Studies did not lose money on this program.

Final Word

Lastly, I would also like to add that a large part of the success of the program was due to the work of the Japanese English teachers who tirelessly fulfilled their duty from early in the morning till late at night for every day of this three week program. I would recommend that you send twice as many of them so that they would have some time to get a proper night = s rest and as they certainly did the work of two during the three weeks of this project. As in the past, it was a pleasure to work with them.

Table 1: ESL Class Ratings [1]

  Students ranking[2] ESL Teachers ranking
1. Greetings and Small Talk 5.3 1 11.3 12
2. Supermarket 6.1 3 7.0 6
3. Mall 6.9 7 1.8 1
4. Returns 6.6 6 5.0 3
5. Fast Food 6.4 4 6.0 5
First Week Average 6.3   6.2  
6. Communication Games 10.2 14 7.8 7
7. Restaurant 6.4 5 3.0 2
8. Appointments 7.4 5 3.0 2
9. Telling about Japan 5.8 2 5.3 4
10. Asking about Minnesota 7.7 9 8.3 9
Second Week Average 7.5   7.4  
11. Compiments 9.1 10 11.8 13
12. Careers 9.8 12 13.0 15
13. Cooking 11.1 15 8.0 8
14. Telling about Your Trip 10.0 13 10.3 11
15. Fun and Games 9.7 11 9.5 10
Third Week Average 9.9   10.5  

Table 2: Group Activities Evaluation [3]

1. Home-stay 2.6
2. Mall of America 2.9
3. Crossroads Mall 4.9
4. Itasca 5.0
5. Skating Place 6.3
6. Resaurant Visit 7.7
7. Munsinger Gardens 8.5
8. Grocery Visit 8.6
9. Dance 9.2
10. Ice Skating 9.7
11. Swimming 10.0
12. Scavenger Hunt 11.4

Appendix M: Mid-term Report of the Costa Rican TESL MA Program

Continuing Studies and the English Department
St. Cloud State University
by James H. Robinson, Ph. D.
TESL Director


The purpose of this formative evaluation is to assess the effectiveness of the MA in TEFL prototype program that is being implemented by Continuing Studies and the TESL program of the English Department at St. Cloud State University in cooperation with the International Classroom and the Secondary Teachers´ Association (APSE) in Costa Rica . The report that follows will conclude that the first cohort that began in May 1997 has proven to be a very successful program with a small number of problems that need to be addressed, and that the program should be institutionalized with a cohort beginning every year, with a total of two cohorts taking classes at any given time.

This report will support the following recommendations for the institutionalization of the TEFL MA in Costa Rica :

  1. that a second cohort should begin course work in June 1998 with each new cohort beginning in June of the following year;
  2. that the budget for each program, including this first one, be revised so that Continuing Studies has access to all funds generated by each cohort for the two year duration of each cohort program;
  3. that SCSU offer teaching assistantships to US-based students to join the TESL courses taught in Costa Rica and to teach in SCSU sponsored ESL courses in Costa Rica;
  4. that we need to look into administrative procedures for this project that will allow us to give grades for courses outside the confines of SCSU quarters or semesters; and
  5. that if necessary quarter credit courses be offered for the first cohort after SCSU has converted its curriculum over to semesters and semester credit courses be offered for the second cohort before SCSU has completed its semester conversion.

A Second Cohort

My first recommendation is to institutionalize this TEFL MA program in Costa Rica by beginning a second cohort in June 1998. This recommendation is based on several factors. First, the evaluations for the first five courses (Appendix 1) were very positive. Second, the comments by the first five professors are highly supportive of this program. Third, without a doubt there is a strong demand on the part of Costa Rican English for this type of graduate program and higher education in Costa Rica , according to reports from the Ministry of Education, is not able to meet this demand. On the problem side, we have three fewer students in the program than we had intended. We began the program with only 29 students and then two have dropped out: one because of medical reasons and the other because he would lose permanent residency status in the US if he continued the program. We have 27 students who have completed five courses with seven more courses scheduled.

Therefore, I would suggest that SCSU request that the International Classroom and APSE begin recruiting of a cohort of between 25 and 30 students to begin with the first course in June 1998 at the price of $6,000 per student for a total program budget between $150,000 to $180,000. Appendix 2 includes documents to support this financial arrangement. Document one is a salary schedule for Costa Rican K-12 teachers, and document two is a bank lending schedule that lists the salary requirements for bank loans. As with the first cohort, $5,000 will be used in St. Cloud to provide the courses and other academic work required of the degree, and $1,000 will be used in Costa Rica to provide administrative support and to finance one trip to St. Cloud for the participants.


My second recommendation is to revise the budgeting practices for this program. I would suggest that all monies directly from tuition and the state match be deposited with Continuing Studies in accounts to service each cohort of this program. Further, after each cohort has graduated, an accounting would be made after which overhead costs would be determined for the various offices associated with this program.

This new practice would be a change from what was set up for the experimental first cohort. Under the first cohort, Continuing Studies was given a budget line or credit limit of $110,000 for this project with an overall estimated cash flow of $225,000. This credit limit was established from our estimates of direct costs for the program. Actually costs have outstripped this budget because of increases in air fares, complications in buying and delivering textbooks, and extra costs on the St. Cloud side for the cohort = s visit here. The change would simply give budget control of each cohort to Continuing Studies and provide the flexibility that all academic programs need.

Teaching Assistantship in Costa Rica

My third recommendation is to expand this TEFL MA program with a student exchange component where graduate students in the TESL MA program at SCSU go to Costa Rica as part of their graduate studies. For this expanded program, regular TESL MA graduate students in St. Cloud would spend either their second or third semester plus the summer in Costa Rica teaching on other SCSU related TEFL programs as teaching assistants and then take graduate courses with the Costa Rican cohorts.

Currently, a SCSU graduate who has been admitted to the graduate program at SCSU works teaching English at the International Classroom in Costa Rica and has been attending the courses we teach there. We plan to offer her an administrative TA to take care of paper work related to our Costa Rican programs and then to take six courses there through next summer. So far, SCSU professors have reported that the presence of this US student in the Costa Rican cohort classes has been very positive, as it increases practical-level cross-cultural communication. Additionally, we anticipate a growth in TEFL instructional programs in Costa Rica through the International Classroom within which our Teaching Assistants could teach and which could provide the funding for the Teaching Assistantships.

Redefining the Term

My fourth recommendation is that we experiment with a number of ways to stretch our courses beyond the two weeks of intense work. Typically, the problem is time. We offer a course over two weekends in one month and then the students have two weeks between this course and the next to finish papers and projects. The professor for the second course collects the materials and brings them back to SCSU. This tight schedule is difficult for some students and has resulted in performances below the ability of some students. At the same time, we have been pressured by university schedules with grades due on specific dates and with automatic A F @ grades given if an incomplete is not finished by a specific date.

In short, we need to have courses that cover material as opposed to a time frame, but universities operate on time schedules. At present we have two experiments in mind for this type of program. First, Jim Robinson will teach English 532 in February but teach the last four hour segment in April during the cohort's visit to St. Cloud . Second, Jim Robinson will teach his regular English 532 in Spring Quarter through ITA to experiment with using this technology in the highly interactive style typical of the courses in this degree program. At the same time, these two experiments do not address the time problem that some of our students have taking courses from this distance.

Semester Conversion

My last recommendation is that we look into offering quarter courses in Costa Rica even after we have converted to semesters and semester courses even while we are on quarters. While we planned to finish the first cohort before semester conversion, we may need to offer courses for either the first or second cohort on both systems. As SCSU degrees will have to be scrutinized by higher educational officials in Costa Rica and because of their regulations and requirements, it may be problematic to have one transcript with hours calculated on both systems. Therefore, we need to know if we can have transcripts that report quarter courses after we have converted to semesters for the first cohort and if we can have transcripts that report semester courses before we have made the conversion.

[1] For these ratings the students and ESL teachers were asked to rate the ESL classroom activities from 1 to 15 with one being the best class and 15 the worst.

[2] The rankings listed the classes by lowest or best score on the ratings with one being the best class and 15 the worst.

[3] Students were asked to rate the outside activities with the best one rated number one.

Untitled Document