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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 ESL 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 then Dean of The Graduate School Richard Morimoto to include an intensive orientation program for newly matriculated international PhD students, the International Summer Institute.  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 recent years the program has increased service levels to support the growing number of international graduate students and scholars, and has added new pathways to fulfilling the proficiency requirement, both through existing assessments such as the TOEFL, Versant, and SPEAK, and through the creation of a new teaching demonstration assessment paired with a course co-taught with the Searle Center (Linguistics 480: the Language of Teaching and Learning). Our staff now includes full-time lecturers, an accent modification speech language pathologist, graduate student instructors, and affiliate instructors.