Traditional ESL

student laughing in the panther cafe'

The College's ESL program offers a series of 4-credit-hour courses in three areas of academic skill preparation. Courses are available at the high beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels in grammar/writing, reading/vocabulary, and listening/speaking. Our ESL courses are designed to build your academic literacy and critical thinking skills.

 Students may enroll part-time or full-time. For the full-time international student, the College's ESL program:

  • Meets the requirements for full-time study, which allows them to apply for an I-20 and attend Tompkins Cortland in F-1 student status.
  • Prepares students to advance into college and university programs in the United States, or to enter the workforce with confidence in language ability
  • Offers the chance to study for 12 hours a week and gain essential skills in grammar, writing, reading, vocabulary, listening, and speaking.

ESL classes are limited to 12 students and are taught by experienced and caring faculty. Although the classes are intensive, teachers provide students with a great deal of individualized attention and support. Professional ESL tutors are available at no extra charge at the Baker Center for Learning on the College’s campus.

International students enrolled in ESL courses may attend a limited number of other college courses, depending on their proficiency in English and the content of the course. Most college courses at Tompkins Cortland require you to have completed or currently be enrolled in ENGL 100, Academic Writing.

Please note that students who need to take ESL courses at Tompkins Cortland may need more than two years to complete their academic program. 

Please contact Angela Palumbo at with any questions about the courses. 

Intermediate English Courses

Writing and Grammar II

4 Credits

This intermediate ESL course focuses on strengthening academic writing, editing, and revising skills, along with expanding students’ repertoire of grammar structures and vocabulary needed for making their writing more effective. In addition to the structure of the paragraph, students explore unity, coherence, and audience.

Reading and Vocabulary II

4 Credits

This intermediate ESL course develops reading comprehension skills through the use of academic readings, non-fiction articles, literature, and poetry. Students will also become familiar with the Academic Word List as well as prefixes, suffixes, and roots as aids in understanding new vocabulary.

Speaking and Listening II

4 Credits

This intermediate ESL course develops conversation, pronunciation, idiomatic, and aural comprehension skills. Students learn appropriate verbal and non-verbal behavior as well as conversational management techniques to exchange ideas in small and large group conversations.

Advanced English Courses

Writing and Grammar III

4 Credits

This advanced ESL course focuses on strengthening academic writing skills. Students practice different writing processes and rhetorical strategies in order to write essays that are purposeful, thoughtful, and coherent, and that conform to the conventions of standard written English. They review grammatical structures needed for effective communication.

Reading and Vocabulary III

4 Credits

This advanced ESL course is designed to help students deal with the high demands of academic reading by focusing on becoming efficient and autonomous readers and to help them function adequately in college courses. Students will also further their knowledge of the Academic Word List.

Speaking and Listening III

4 Credits

This advanced ESL course further develops conversation, pronunciation, idiomatic, and aural comprehension skills. The course continues to build the students’ listening comprehension in academic lectures. Students will learn how to speak at length on a given topic, both prepared and extemporaneous, and to understand the subtleties of conversational English.