EWU English Language Institute preps international students for university

March 16, 2017 By eastern247
Student discussion in a classroom


The English Language Institute (ELI) at Eastern Washington University focuses on helping international students learn English so they can stay on track and succeed in university-level education.

The ELI is an intensive English program that supports students to improve their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills before entering classes at a university.

“When I came here, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t think I’d make it to here. It seems complicated – English, how to read a book, how to understand [the language] and take courses,” said EWU student Mohammed Almazeedy. “Now I don’t even worry about the language. ELI has helped a lot.”

Taking about seven months to graduate from the ELI, Almazeedy is now a sophomore electrical engineering major. He said ELI gave him the opportunity to learn how university classes are structured.

“When I was studying back home by myself, I learned the letters, but I didn’t know how to use them,” he said. “I didn’t know how to speak.”

The program has five levels of English proficiency, ranging from levels one to five. Students average 18 hours per week in class with small class sizes, giving students a personalized study experience.

Facts about ELI

  • Since 1979, more than 4,000 students have passed the ELI’s courses.
  • Students work on improving their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills before entering university.
  • The ELI program schedule follows the university’s academic schedule. There are four terms – winter, spring, summer and fall.
  • The average student completes the ELI program in two to three academic quarters.
  • Classes meet between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except Friday when there is no afternoon class.
  • Faculty at the ELI have more than 150 years of combined ESL teaching experience.

“I think, in general, students who go through an intensive English program, as opposed to going directly into university with a test score, helps them to acculturate better,” said Neil Heyen, PhD, and director of ELI.

Since 1979, when the ELI was established, more than 4,000 students from more than 50 countries have passed through the ELI’s programs, many of whom complete their undergraduate and graduate studies at EWU.

“Hopefully students develop personally and grow,” Heyen said. “You’ll run into them and can see the difference in their ability to express themselves in English. They seem much more comfortable.”

In addition to undergraduate programs, the ELI offers support classes for international students wishing to enter graduate programs at EWU. Since the graduate preparation program, more than 200 international students have earned their master’s degrees at EWU in fields such as business administration, education, public administration and communications.

For more information about the ELI, contact Kristina Guilfoyle at kguilfoyle@ewu.edu or 509.359.7362.