ESL Credit courses are designed to improve students' language skills to enable them to successfully complete academic coursework. They are offered in the spring and fall semesters. ESL credit courses are taught by ESL lecturers as well as TAs who are pursuing advanced degrees in the Department of Linguistics. Up-to-date schedule information is available on MyUI.

Spaces in ESL classes will be made available to students who are not required to take the classes if space is available and the class is appropriate for the student. Students who are not required may place their names on waiting lists for the classes they would like to take.

Registration for all ESL classes requires special permission. Students may obtain permission from the ESL Office in 1112 University Capitol Centre or from their academic advisor. Permission cannot be given to students by phone or via e-mail.

ESL Course Policies

  • Completion of mandatory ESL courses is required for graduation.
  • Courses taken to meet the English proficiency requirement may not be taken P/N or S/U.
  • ESL courses must be taken for three credit hours.
  • Students are not allowed to drop their ESL course(s) once the semester begins.
  • For undergraduates, all required ESL courses must be completed during their first year and before enrollment in Rhetoric courses. Undergraduate students held for ESL courses must enroll in a minimum number of ESL courses for their initial registration as follows:
    • If held for 5 courses, the student must enroll in a minimum of 4 courses.  
    • If held for 4 courses, the student must enroll in a minimum of 2 courses.
    • If held for 3 courses, the student must enroll in a minimum of 2 courses.
    • If held for 2 courses, the student must enroll in a minimum of 1 course.
  • Undergraduates held for ESL courses must be enrolled in ESL courses continuously until all ESL requirements are completed.
  • Undergraduates who have earned a grade of C- or lower in an ESL course will be required to repeat and pass the ESL course with a grade of C or higher before the requirement is considered fulfilled.
  • Graduate students who test into ESL courses are required to register for at least one ESL course each semester. Students who fail to do so will not be allowed to register for the following session.  Graduate students must earn a grade of C- or higher to satisfy the requirement. This requirement is monitored by the Graduate College.
  • Students must be enrolled in The University of Iowa in order to take ESL credit classes. Individuals such as post-docs and visiting professors who are interested in taking ESL classes must also be enrolled in the University in order to take ESL classes. For information regarding special student enrollment procedures, please contact the Admissions Office (107 Calvin Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242-1396). The Admissions Office can be reached via e-mail at and by phone at (319) 335-3847 or (800) 553-4692.

ESL Course Descriptions

ESL:4130 ESL Academic Listening Skills, 3 s.h.
This course focuses on developing listening skills necessary for success in a U.S. academic setting. Students learn strategies for listening to academic lectures, practice note-taking skills, and participate in fast-paced classroom discussions.

ESL:4100 ESL Academic Oral Skills, 3 s.h.
This course provides a structured opportunity to develop fluency in spoken English. Class members study and practice speaking skills needed to function appropriately in a U.S. academic setting as well as in U.S. society in general. Students also study and practice pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary related to the goal of communicative competence.  

ESL:4160 ESL Grammar, 3 s.h.
This class studies the structures of English with particular focus on patterns of grammar which are frequently troublesome for nonnative speakers of English. Students practice applying these structures through extensive speaking and writing, and by completing a variety of exercises and writing brief essays.

ESL:4190 ESL Academic Writing Skills, 3 s.h. (for undergraduate students)
The emphasis of this course is on discourse considerations, more complex grammatical constructions, and the usage of formal vocabulary of the type expected of university students. Students practice various styles of organization, types of argumentation, and methods of analysis used in academic writing.    

ESL:4200 ESL Reading Skills, 3 s.h.
This course focuses on increasing reading speed and comprehension of the sort of writing and vocabulary encountered by university students. Exercises, discussion, and note-taking assignments are used to develop skills of critical analysis.

ESL:6000 ESL Academic Writing Skills, 3 s.h. (for graduate students)
This course focuses on discourse considerations and styles of organization in academic writing at the graduate level. Students identify and practice different types of argumentation and methods of analysis expected of graduate students with respect to general academic work and their specific area of study.