The English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Dowling’s ESL Program is divided into two distinct disciplines: Expression (Writing/Speaking) and Comprehension (Reading/Listening). Grammar and Conversation Skills are part of each discipline. There are three levels of classes – Level 1 (Beginner) and Level 2 (Intermediate) — within each discipline, followed by a 3rd level designed for High Intermediate-Advanced students. Levels 1 and 2 each meet for 18 hours per week for an entire semester. The 18 hours are taught as 4 individual classes.

Information about Level 3 courses follows the course descriptions for Levels 1 and 2.


Expression 1 (ESL 0100):

Expression 1 is designed to teach the basic principles of writing, beginning with sentence structure to simple paragraph formation. Stress is on learning the basic principles of grammar, the various types of sentences and using them to write cohesive paragraphs. After completion of Level 1, students should be able to write sentences which are grammatically correct as well as a well-developed paragraph.

(6 hours per week)

Comprehension 1 (ESL 0300):

Comprehension courses emphasize the unique linkage of reading and listening skills. The focus is on skills used in reading and active listening, such as finding key words and main ideas, paraphrasing, understanding written and spoken idioms, and analyzing written texts in its various forms of essays, newspapers, textbooks, and literature as well as spoken texts in speeches, lectures, TV newscasts, radio, and film clips.

(6 hours per week)

Conversation Skills 1 (ESL 0013):

This beginning level course is designed to increase oral proficiency in Level 1 Expression and Comprehension students. Students will be provided with ample opportunities to speak and interact with the instructor and other classmates in guided speaking activities such as role plays, discussions, and group work to facilitate language learning. Listening exercises utilizing recorded essays, stories, short lectures, and news clips will also be used to generate discussion topics. This course will prepare students to acquire the oral skills to place into Conversation Skills 2.

(3 hours per week)

Grammar 1 (ESL 0010):

This required ESL course is designed to provide students with exposure to the rules of grammar of the English language. Students will review the rules governing verb tenses, prepositions, adjectives, and adverbs and continue with more complex sentence structure. This course will also introduce and explore the use of dependent clauses as a means of developing variety in sentence structure. It is the goal of this course to help students write more effectively in both formal and informal written communication in college and business settings.

(3 hours per week)



Expression 2 (ESL 0200):

Expression 2 is designed to teach the fundamentals of English grammar and its correct usage for independent practice as well as in an interactive atmosphere encouraging growth in all areas of language. The use of complex sentences is developed. Students are introduced to skills such as outlining and organizing main ideas and supporting evidence for two or three paragraphs connected by a central idea.

(6 hours per week)

Comprehension 2 (ESL 0400):

This course continues with more difficult reading assignments as well as introducing the difference between explicit and implicit meaning. CDs and CNN video clips provide opportunities to develop listening skills. Vocabulary building is stressed and students are exposed to more idiomatic expressions as well.

(6 hours per week)

Conversation Skills 2 (ESL 0014):

This intermediate level course is designed to increase oral proficiency in Level 2 Expression and Comprehension students. Students will be required to participate in group work and also learn to produce a basic outline and organize short oral informative speeches. Discussion topics will focus on current events and short recorded lectures. Listening to short recorded essays will continue to increase effective listening and note-taking skills.

(3 hours per week)

Grammar 2 (ESL 0019):

This required course continues to reinforce the grammatical rules learned in Grammar 1 as well as providing students with more exposure to more advanced rules of grammar. Grammar 2 supports the interactive language learning and grammar activities introduced in Expression 2.

(3 hours per week)



Level 3 offers an advanced level of classes for High-Intermediate or Advanced Level Students, which prepares them to begin credit bearing classes. Level 3 ESL classes include Expression 3, Public Speaking, and Advanced Composition for graduate students and Expression 3, Comprehension 3 and English Pronunciation for undergraduate students.

Expression 3 (ESL 0500):

This course is designed to develop proficiency in academic writing skills for High-Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners by blending grammar methodology with the key steps in the writing process. In addition to introducing the conventions of American writing discourse, the class focuses on refining the paragraph form and developing essay structure as well as note-taking skills for lectures.

(6 hours per week)

Comprehension 3 (ESL 0600):

This course is designed to develop academic reading proficiency for High-Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners through the use of content-based authentic texts supported by technology and the development of strong lexical knowledge covering a wide range of topics. The use of National Geographic Digital Media related to the theme-based content enhances the students’ experience.

(6 hours per week)

Public Speaking for ESL Students in the MBA Program (ESL 0011)

This course is an advanced speech communication course for ESL students. The principles and techniques taught here are similar to those practiced in a traditional public speaking class but they are designed to be more appropriate and relevant to non-native speakers of English. The main objective is to develop and improve the student’s communication skills while also sharpening each student’s ability to critically observe and evaluate the attempts of others to communicate. Since the primary focus will be on public speaking, this course is designed to allow each student ample opportunity to inform and persuade others.

(3 hours per week)

Advanced Composition for ESL Students in the MBA Program (ESL 0012)

This advanced course will focus on writing research papers. Students will be guided through the research process and given clear guidelines and practice exercises in developing research skills. The course will also include instruction on electronic resources and citation as well as the use of MLA or APA documentation. Research topics will include both argumentative and informative papers.

(3 hours per week)


In addition to classroom instruction, the Dowling’s ESL Program offers tutoring labs which address the four strands of language acquisition (reading, writing, grammar, and listening/speaking) to support each student’s language learning process. These labs are offered at various times during the week to accommodate the students at each level, and materials are prepared specifically to complement the lessons addressed in the ESL classes.

Each ESL class is assigned a specific day/time to attend an ESL language lab and attendance is required of each student. Classroom instructors provide lab supervisors with specific work/lessons to be taught in the lab, or else material will be generated by the lab supervisors to align with the appropriate level of the students. Open lab hours are also available for those students seeking individual attention.


An Exit Exam is used for level 3 students to determine their ability to exit the ESL Program. This is a TOEFL style test prepared by the ESL department. Students in good standing who have completed Level 2 may also elect to take this exam when it is offered and, if they pass, they will be waived out of any further ESL requirements. If they do not pass, they will continue on to Level 3 classes. If Level 3 students should fail, they must repeat the level and retake the Exit Exam at the end of the next semester. A test preparation lab is offered to familiarize students with the test format.