FAQs

  1. How was I placed into the ESL program and into my ESL level?
  2. Which courses in ESL must I take? That is, is there a specific sequence of courses that I will need to follow?
  3. When will I be able to consider myself a “graduate” of the ESL Program?
  4. How can I start taking the courses that I need for my major when I am still enrolled in ESL courses?
  5. Where will I be able to go for extra help if there is something that I don’t understand in my courses?
  6. Where can I get help if I am having trouble passing the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading Examinations?
  7. What are the qualifications of the faculty members of the Department of Language and Cognition?
  8. What particular teaching strategies do the ESL instructors use?

 

FAQ´s Answers
1. How was I placed into the ESL program and into my ESL level?
You were identified as an ESL student based on your application and the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading Examinations that you took. The Department of Language and Cognition placement committee then reviewed your ACT essay and placed you in the proper class in our ESL sequence.

The correctness of the placement committee´s determination was further"evaluated" at registration by the ESL professors who advised you. They evaluated your oral (speaking) and aural (listening) skills when they registered you for classes. This process continued during the first week of classes, when your teachers assessed your English proficiency in a variety of ways in order to see if you were properly placed in your classes. 


2. Which courses in ESL must I take? That is, is there a specific sequence of courses that I will need to follow?

The ESL programs offered by the Department of Language and Cognition are depicted in the chart below. As you can see, we have a "regular" program and an "intensive" program. Students participate in the "intensive program," an accelerated model, only after t Monday, May 5, 2008 8:04 AM in the intensive program by the intensive program coordinator. Usually, students enter the intensive program after first spending at least one semester in the regular program. Based on the recommendation of their teacher(s) in the regular program, they are given the opportunity to take the intensive admissions examination. Each level of the program involves 15 hours of ESL class work per week, including writing and reading components and a language workshop.

ENG 110: Expository Writing

Regular Program

Intensive Program

ESL 091

ESL 092

Level II B

ESL 035

ESL 036 or ESL 037

Level II A

ESL 025

ESL 026 or ESL 027

Level I

ESL 015

ESL 016

 

The "Regular" Program

We have a four-semester program of studies, with three “strands”: 1) ESL in Content Areas I, II and III (ESL 015, 025, and 035 respectively); 2) Contemporary Issues for ESL I, II and III (ESL 016, 026, and 036 respectively); and 3) Literature for ESL I, II and III (ESL 016, 027 and 037, respectively). Finally, students take Basic Composition (ESL 091) with co-requisite, Foundations of Critical Reading (ESL 092), which prepare the students for the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading exams.

At the beginning level (ESL 015 and ESL 016), students are required to take 12 hours of study per week. The classes are co-requisites. ESL 015 is part of the ESL in Content Areas strand, as explained above. ESL 016 is a combination of strands 2) and 3), covering both contemporary issues and literature topics. At the intermediate level (ESL 025 and ESL 026 or ESL 027), students must take 9 hours of study per week. They take the Content Areas strand but can choose between contemporary topics and literature. At the advanced level (ESL 035 and ESL 036 or ESL 037), students must again take 9 hours of study per week. They take the Content Areas strand but can choose between contemporary topics and literature. At the transitional level (ESL 091 and ESL 092), students prepare for the ACT Writing/COMPASS Reading exams. If they pass both these exams, they can advance to Expository Writing, ENG 110, a required course for all Hostos students. There is flexibility at this level to drop one of the classes if a student successfully passes the Writing or Reading examination early.

The Intensive Program

Students can complete the 4-semester sequence in 3 semesters. Students participate in the Intensive Program” only after taking an admissions examination. They are invited to enroll in the intensive program by the Intensive Program Coordinator.  Usually, students enter the Intensive Program after first spending at least one semester in the regular program.  Based on the recommendation of their teacher(s) in the regular program, they are given the opportunity to take the intensive admissions examination.



 

3. When will I be able to consider myself a “graduate” of the ESL Program?
You will be able to consider yourself a "graduate" of the ESL program when you have passed both the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading Examinations. In most cases, you will be able to take these examinations at the end of the semester in which you are enrolled in ESL 091/092. A score of 7 is a passing score on the writing examination and a score of 70 is a passing score on the reading examination. You need to pass both these examinations in order to move on to ENG 110 ("Expository Writing"). See the chart in Section 2, where ENG 110 is appropriately placed at the top. 

4. How can I start taking the courses that I need for my major when I am still enrolled in ESL courses?
You will be separated from native speakers in ESL courses only. You can take all kinds of content area courses in English with native speakers as long as your level of proficiency permits it. Because different content area courses require different levels of English ability, there is a prerequisite of ESL 091 (Basic Composition, the course immediately before Expository Writing) or English 110 (Expository Writing) for some courses that might be too demanding linguistically for ESL students. However, there are many courses that you can take in English even at the most basic level, and you are urged to do so. 

Hostos is unique because it also offers content classes in Spanish. Therefore, if you are a Spanish-speaking student, you can progress with your major while you gain the English language skills that you ultimately need to master. Nevertheless, because we encourage you to make as much progress in English as possible, the department has the following language policy: Students must take one content course in English at the lower level, two in English at the intermediate level, and all their content courses in English at the advanced level and in the Basic Composition level. 


5. Where will I be able to go for extra help if there is something that I don’t understand in my courses?

If you believe you need extra help in doing your work, you should first meet with your teacher to see how he or she can be of assistance to you. Your teacher will be happy to advise you on how you can try to improve your study skills. He or she may recommend you for tutoring in the Hostos Academic Learning Center (HALC). 

The HALC contains workspace for individual tutoring sessions and has three computer rooms to provide tutoring interventions in a variety of areas. College assistants provide one-on-one and group tutoring sessions in twenty content areas for the college. At the Writing Center, for instance, students are assisted in revising first drafts and also receive individual tutoring for ACT preparation. The academic progress of participants is closely monitored throughout the semester by the HALC personnel. All tutoring sessions, workshops, and assistance are provided free of charge and there is no limit on the number of visits students can make to the center. 

Students also work individually at the HALC. There are computer programs that help them improve not only their reading proficiency but also their grammar awareness. 

Go to www.hostos.cuny.edu/halc (Academic Learning Center) to read all about the HALC. 

 

6. Where can I get help if I am having trouble passing the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading Examinations?
During intersession and the summer months at the HALC, students who have failed the ACT Writing and COMPASS Reading Examinations are qualified to take reading and writing workshops of two weeks in duration that help them prepare for these examinations, which they are permitted to take immediately after the workshops.

Students can also seek assistance to pass these tests through the College Enrichment Academies, which meet during the semester (six-week courses that meet four hours a day on either Friday evenings, and Saturday or Sunday mornings) or during intersession and the summer months (four-hour sessions for twelve consecutive days). 

You can enroll in the College Enrichment Academies while you are taking ESL 035 or 091 or ESL Intensive Levels IIa or IIb. 

Go to http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/cea (College Enrichment Academies) to read more about the Academies. 


7. What are the qualifications of the faculty members of the Department of Language and Cognition?
Full-time faculty and adjuncts teach the ESL sequence. For the most part, the faculty members of the department hold terminal degrees from the most distinguished universities in the United States and abroad in ESL or a related discipline. Many also publish, attend conferences, and are active in local, regional, national and international organizations that are concerned about the teaching of second and/or foreign languages. 

See the pictures and academic credentials of the full-time faculty members on the department´s Web site. Then listen to what they have to say to you! 


8. What particular teaching strategies do the ESL instructors use?
The ESL instructors of the department are well-versed in current pedagogy and theoretical concerns. The pedagogy we have found to be most effective is CBI, or Content Based Instruction, and specifically, SCLI, or Sustained Content Language Instruction in academic disciplines. All the courses in the "regular" program and the "intensive" program are content-based. For example, a unit on freedom of speech in ESL 035 might begin with the chapter in the textbook (NorthStar. Focus on Reading and Writing, Advanced: Cohen/Miller, Addison-Wesley Longman, 2004). Teachers will add several readings from newspapers or journals. Students will be required to debate and write about issues that affect them personally (e.g. censorship) and link their arguments to content material, thus learning other skills like research, computer use and citation, in addition to English. Likewise, the CBI model is applied to the Literature and Contemporary Issues strands of the program. Students are tested both on language proficiency and other information and skills.