The Intensive English program is designed for non-native speakers of varying proficiency levels, who wish to pursue full-time English language study.

Our comprehensive curriculum incorporates the fundamentals of ESL instruction – vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, reading and writing – with the study of literature, U.S. culture and other enrichment topics.  Small class sizes ensure that students receive individualized attention, as well as opportunities to interact with classmates.

Our setting on the historic College of Charleston campus also allows students to participate in a wide range of campus and community activities, further enriching the English learning experience.

Prior to the first day of classes, Intensive English students are issued both oral and written placement tests. These placement tests are designed to measure a student’s ability to understand spoken English, as well as his or her ability to read, write, and speak English.  This allows the ELI to offer a program customized to student-ability levels, and ensures that students are placed in courses that will best meet their needs and study goals.

Intensive English students spend approximately 18 hours per week in the classroom. A sample schedule may be accessed hereKeep reading for course descriptions. 

Part-time study options may also be available, depending on the student’s immigration status.

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Course Descriptions

Listening & Speaking

This course is designed to help students develop the listening and speaking skills necessary to function in academic, professional, and social environments.

Students are provided the opportunity to practice the following skills:

  • Pronunciation
  • Academic Note Taking
  • Academic Research

Students also engage in group projects and oral presentations as they work toward improving their English communication skills.

The Listening and Speaking course meets for 6 hours per week.

Grammar & Writing

This course is designed to help students develop overall mastery of English grammar, while focusing on the correct use of grammar within written communication.

Students will be prepared for the rigors of academic and corporate communication, which may include:

  • drafting a properly formatted paragraph
  • composing various types of essays
  • writing research papers that meet US academic standards.

Course instructors also offer one-on-one guidance as students work toward improving general grammar usage and formal writing skills.

The Grammar and Writing course meets for 6 hours per week.

Reading & Vocabulary

This course is designed to improve reading comprehension and enhance student vocabulary.

Students will have the opportunity to study a variety of texts, working to increase both reading comprehension and speed. Assigned readings will also contribute to a mastery of the Academic Word list.

The Reading and Vocabulary course meets for 3 hours per week.

Novel Studies

This course provides students with an opportunity to practice core skills (listening & speaking, reading & vocabulary, grammar & writing), while engaging in the study of a work of fiction. Past novels have included contemporary literature, European classics, and American classics.

The Novel Studies class meets for 3 hours per week.


Enrichment courses are designed to provide students with additional practice in the core academic areas. Coursework will vary depending on a student’s needs and interests.

Prior course formats have included:

  • Contemporary American Film Studies – an engaging course open to students of all levels, this class uses the study of American films to help facilitate group discussion, and further vocabulary development.
  • Communication and Culture – this course, open to students at all levels, focuses on Charleston’s numerous cultural attractions.  While learning about Charleston history, students will master new vocabulary and practice asking/answering questions. Students will also visit a new destination each week.

For advanced students, enrichment hours may include a TOEFL exam prep class.

Enrichment courses meet for 3 hours per week.

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