English Proficiency and Placement

Students will be placed in appropriate course levels from intermediate to advanced with a placement test taken during the on-campus orientation. Students are expected to be able to speak, read, write, and understand simple sentences.

Level 4

This course focuses on improving all aspects of the oral and aural skills necessary to be successful undergraduate students. The curriculum emphasizes receptive skills, such as listening for content, note-taking, paraphrasing, and summarizing, as well as expressive skills, such as giving a variety of presentations and participating in small group and whole class discussions.

In the process, students increase their fluency and accuracy in expressing their ideas, expand their academic and idiomatic vocabulary, and sharpen their critical thinking skills while becoming more comfortable and confident with the culture of an American classroom.

This course offers undergraduate students the opportunity to develop critical academic reading skills and to expand their academic vocabulary. Students read a variety of texts, such as essays, newspaper articles, short stories and novels. Students respond critically to the texts by writing journals and essays, giving presentations, and actively engaging in small and whole group discussions with their classmates in order to explore the nuances and deeper meanings in each text. All semester students keep a vocabulary journal composed of new words they encounter from each article, story, or novel.

This course develops students’ writing skills with a particular focus on writing academic essays according to American academic conventions. After reviewing and honing their ability to write clear, focused, and well-developed paragraphs, students learn to state and defend a thesis while composing essays in multiple genres, including compare and contrast, cause and effect, and argumentative.

Students engage in all aspects of the writing process, including pre-writing, brainstorming, outlining, drafting, editing, and peer review. Students will learn the value of feedback and revision. In addition, students analyze and address the typical grammatical trouble spots for non-native speakers. Throughout the semester, students pay close attention to the norms of academic integrity and the issue of plagiarism. The course culminates with an introduction to the research paper.

In this course, students of all levels have the opportunity to both study and experience the life and culture of the U.S. capital. Through readings, discussions, watching films, guest lectures by experts in the fields of history and politics, and site visits in Washington, DC, students gains a more profound knowledge and insight about this exciting and intriguing city. Over the course of the semester, students will also compare and contrast the life and culture of DC to that of the US as a whole. In the process, students strengthen all aspects of their English language skills and deepen their understanding of US culture.

Level 5

This advanced level course builds on the academic aural and oral skills learned in the level 4 course. The focus is on comprehension of oral communication in the classroom (i.e. listening for content, note-taking, paraphrasing, and summarizing) as well as participation in oral communication in the classroom (i.e. utilizing verbal and non-verbal communication skills, managing conversations/discussions, and giving oral presentations).

Particular emphasis is placed on understanding and responding to long-form academic lectures from a variety of disciplines. In addition to a variety of individual and group presentations, students also give a short lecture and lead a discussion on a topic of their interest. In the process students increase their fluency and accuracy in expressing their ideas, expand their academic vocabulary, and sharpen their critical thinking skills.

This course builds on ELTA’s Level 4 learning goals, further developing critical thinking skills, academic reading skills, and expanding academic vocabulary. Students will read and interpret literary works, academic texts, and media articles, write on assigned topics, and apply a range of learning strategies and research skills effectively. Students will participate in debates, lead classroom presentations and discussions, and work collaboratively to complete in-class activities.

This course develops students’ academic writing skills with a particular focus on how written academic essays can be used to develop a short research paper. Students will build on their previous essay writing skills, incorporating complex grammatical structures and using different rhetorical genres such as classification, definition, problem/solution, and compare/contrast to increase the sophistication of their writing. Students engage in all aspects of the writing process, including peer review workshops, and learn the value of feedback and revision.

In addition, students analyze and address the typical grammatical trouble spots for non-native speakers with a particular focus on tone, hedging and boosting. Throughout the semester, students pay close attention to the norms of academic integrity and the issue of plagiarism as they research and document their work.

In this course students deepen their understanding of media and culture by evaluating and responding to how American culture is represented on television sitcoms. Through readings, discussions, presentations, and watching various shows students gains insight into the way TV portrays the culture and people of the U.S. Students specifically examine the representations of gender, race, ethnicity, family, sexual orientation, and politics while also viewing how these representations have changed over the history of TV sitcoms. In the process, students strengthen all aspects of their English language skills.

Level 6

This advanced content-based course approaches oral and aural skills holistically. With Ted Talks as a unifying source of diverse content material, students not only improve their listening and speaking skills, but also pronunciation, vocabulary, note-taking, presentation skills, and critical thinking. The course topics range from sociology to literature to statistics, among several other disciplines. However, a key theme to the course will be in the world of business. Presentations will be framed around this topic, but with flexibility to make it relevant to each student’s needs and goals.

Students develop their critical thinking skills, academic reading skills, and expand advanced academic vocabulary. Students read and interpret academic texts across a diverse array of disciplines as well as scholarly articles and a novel. In addition to writing analytical responses to the texts, students apply a range of learning strategies and research skills, participate in debates, lead classroom presentations and discussions, and work collaboratively to complete in-class activities.

This course develops students’ academic writing skills with a particular focus on how to write research papers and graduate-level research proposals. Students will build on their previous essay writing skills, incorporating complex grammatical structures and using different rhetorical genres to increase the sophistication of their writing. Students engage in all aspects of the writing process, including peer review workshops, learning the value of feedback and revision.

In addition, students analyze and address the typical grammatical trouble spots for non-native speakers. Throughout the semester, students pay close attention to the norms of academic integrity and the issue of plagiarism as they research and document their work.

By closely watching and discussing films from each decade since WWII students observe the evolution of American culture, history, and society over the past seven decades. Students watch one film per week on their own, complete a worksheet about the film, and come to class prepared to discuss it with the instructor and their peers. Class discussions aim to dissect the film's meaning beyond the plot and make connections to the key events of the film's time period trying to understand the zeitgeist.

In the process, students develop critical thinking skills, increase awareness of American culture and history, improve oral and aural skills by actively participating, and become more confident public speakers by giving presentations on key events of each decade.

International Accelerator Program (IAP)

The English for Academic Purposes course will introduce students to the necessary knowledge and skills to comprehend written and spoken academic English with a high degree of accuracy, and to speak and write accurately and fluently in both formal and informal academic contexts. The course will feature active and peer-learning activities so students may practice and improve their existing skills in these areas. In addition, the course will also introduce students to a variety of relevant technologies, texts, and contexts across disciplines with an express purpose of supporting students in becoming successful English-language users in their academic, professional, and personal lives.

This course is designed to explore American University, its values and goals, along with students’ own values and goals to support the transition to a new academic culture and community at AU and in DC. In this course, students examine core values of AU and how they are practiced through academic and non-academic research and practice. In particular, the course will discuss core values of diversity, social responsibility, and experiential learning at AU through various readings and hands-on experiences. To be successful in the course, active participation and good preparation (readings and homework) are the key. This course will help students improve their reading skills and vocabulary as well as research, presentation, and discussion skills.

This course explores cultural messages through various forms of media platforms. In this course, students identify and critically evaluate media messages. The course is organized thematically by the type of media, such as newspapers, magazines, TV, film, radio, and social media. For each media genre, students engage in a related project-based activity, such as writing a newspaper article, launching a new magazine, analyzing a TV show, writing a film review, and producing a pilot radio or podcast show. Students work both individually and collaboratively in small groups and pay close attention to any language issues that arise during their activities and tasks.

In this course, students develop and sharpen their academic reading and writing skills. Students read texts in a variety of content areas that range across disciplines including the natural sciences, history and government, literature, and psychology and the social sciences. They write essays that arise from the readings, employing different rhetorical styles such as argument, compare and contrast, and problem solution. The course culminates with an extensive research paper on a topic related to the student’s intended major. Particular attention is given to the issue of academic integrity throughout the semester. As a result, students will become better writers across the curriculum.

This course is designed to help students adapt to the academic expectations during students’ course of study at American University by supporting the transition to a new academic culture and community. In this course, students will explore cultural assumptions underlying academic practices and personal interactions in U.S. university communities, with special attention on how U.S. cultural norms are viewed by people from other cultural backgrounds. Topics of the course include academic integrity, examining student-faculty interactions, academic reading and writing, conducting mini research, and presentations.

Master's Accelerator Program (MAP)

This course offers graduate students the opportunity to sharpen the listening and speaking skills essential for graduate work. The focus is on listening for content, giving effective presentations, note-taking, and summarizing. Students also develop an understanding of verbal and non-verbal communication and become comfortable and confident at actively participating in class discussions. This interactive course utilizes small and large group discussions and various forms of collaborative work, which serve to acculturate students to the typical classroom dynamic of U.S. universities.

This course introduces students to the academic expectations of graduate programs at American University. During the semester, students will learn the conventions and rules of writing in English in an academic environment. Students will focus on developing academic skills in English that will enable them to effectively communicate and advance in their chosen academic field. The focus of this course is on enhancing academic writing skills in English, including vocabulary acquisition, advanced grammar structures, and various rhetorical modes. Students will be expected to read, understand, and summarize academic texts, analyze underlying grammatical choices in academic texts, and write short papers related to their course of study.

Application Deadlines

Spring 2020

  • International Students
    Priority Deadline: November 1
  • International Students
    Final Deadline: November 15
  • Domestic Students
    Final Deadline: December 13