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About English Language Programs

History of English Language Programs

The Graduate School has offered English language support for its graduate students since 1982, through its continued partnership with the Department of Linguistics. Through this partnership, The Graduate School has been able to offer free English language services to its international student population, exclusively focused on the needs of academics at the graduate level and beyond, delivered by graduate student peers with advanced technical knowledge of the sounds, structure, and meaning of English. At the same time, this partnership has provided essential teaching experience, research opportunities, and financial aid to PhD students in linguistics through teaching appointments for English language classes and individual tutoring.

 The program was originally staffed and led by graduate students in the Department of Linguistics. The offerings were group classes (offered through the Department of Linguistics), individual tutoring, and proficiency testing through the SPEAK test. In 2000, the program was expanded by Dean of The Graduate School Richard Morimoto to include the International Summer Institute, an intensive orientation program for newly matriculated international PhD students.  In 2010, as The Graduate School increased its emphasis on the role of teaching for all graduate students, additional programs were introduced, including placement testing of all PhD and MFA students upon matriculation, online software training, a program for language practice through guided exploration of Evanston/Chicago, and an intensive orientation program for new students who needed additional language support.

In 2016 the program increased service levels to support the growing number of international graduate students and scholars, and added new pathways to fulfilling the proficiency requirement, including the creation of a new Teaching Demonstration Assessment. This new assessment was paired with a new course for PhD students: Linguistics 480: the Language of Teaching and Learning. This intensive course was co-developed with Nancy Ruggeri, Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs a the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and continues to be co-taught each summer by staff from both ELP and Searle.

In summer of 2019, the International Summer Institute was shifted to a new model: a hybrid program called ELP Foundations. This new program combines a mostly asynchronous online summer course prior to arrival with in-person social events once students are on campus. ELP expects to continue to invest in developing online resources to better serve students based on the Chicago campus, and to provide continued service when students are traveling or unable to come to campus for any reason.

Our full-time staff now includes two Language Pedagogy Specialists, two Speech-Language Pathologists, a senior director, and assistant director. In addition to our full-time staff, we have graduate student instructors and interns, affiliate instructors who are part of the Northwestern faculty or research community, as well as instructors and clinicians from the Chicago area.