Study English Language in the USA

W: sdstate.edu/esl

Your Journey Starts Here

Explore American culture, develop academic English proficiency, and learn to communicate with confidence at South Dakota State University (SDSU).

ELCI at a glance

The SDSU English Language & Culture Institute (ELCI) prepares students for the rigors of post-secondary academics. The ELCI focuses on academic English, while enhancing students’ cognitive abilities and real-world problem-solving skills in the English context. Students are challenged to think beyond simply building language skills to embrace the attitude of learning.

No language proficiency scores are required for ELCI admission and qualified undergrad applicants will receive conditional admission to SDSU. Grad applicants will prepare for the TOEFL/IELTS to meet the language requirements for their specific programs. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to all who meet the ELCI exit requirements and pass all exams.


Intensive ESL Program

The Intensive ESL Program is ideal for non-native English speakers seeking admission to a nationally accredited U.S. higher education institution. Students can improve their academic English reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

  • Student centered - Courses are student centered, celebrate diversity and encourage communication and collaboration.
  • Deeper thinking - Learners are engaged in critical discourse and higher-level thinking to prepare for professional and educational communication.
  • Limited class size - Courses are delivered by master’s- and doctoral-level instructors, with limited class sizes to ensure low student-to-teacher ratios.
  • Progressive levels - Students enter the program at three different levels-Level I, II and III. Each level contains 25 hours of intensive English instruction per week for a 16-week term (400 clock hours).
  • Focused instruction - Instruction is focused on developing reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, enhancing students’ cultural understanding and creating real-world communication
Level Level I, II or III (level is assessed on arrival)
Course Duration 16 weeks (1 term)
Start Dates Fall, Spring & Summer
Instruction hours per week 25
Program Fees $5,500
Additional costs of attendance include room and board, books and supplies, and approved health insurance averaging about $5,000 per term

Program structure

Level I

  • Exploring world perspectives (reading, writing) Learn how to interpret and construct texts that have global, multicultural relevance
  • Communicating meaning (listening, speaking) Practice pronunciation and prepare for verbal communication at social, educational and professional levels
  • American culture & diversity Learn about cultural behaviors, beliefs, values and attitudes of American citizens
  • Communication workshop Communicate in real-world settings, focusing on typical social interactions

Level II

  • Writing for college & beyond (reading, writing) Learn the 5-paragraph essay structure, elements of academic writing and more complex sentence structures, grammar and syntax
  • International civic engagement Engage in critical thinking related to international, national and regional issues. Explore current topics, evaluate news and engage in debate
  • Communicating with academic audiences (listening, speaking) Engage in speaking and listening activities that showcase academic discourse. Develop strategies for note-taking and listening in a college classroom
  • Communication workshop Communicate in more complicated situations like relationship discussions, social gatherings and cultural events

Level III

  • Rhetorical styles & strategies (reading, writing) Prepare for university admission. Conduct a research project by completing a literature review of academic journals, writing an essay and presenting
  • Professional communication & conduct (listening, speaking) Learn formal uses of English, professional and academic vocabulary, pronunciation, enunciation and fluency
  • Special topics in American universities Focus on college preparedness, foundations of university education and educational expectations of university students
  • Communication workshop Communicate in typical native speaker interactions like discussions about politics, science and global affairs

Study at South Dakota State University

SDSU is the largest public university in the state of South Dakota and has students from more than 80 different countries. Choose from more than 175 fields of study and 217 student organizations. SDSU is ranked in the top 10 colleges with low-cost out-of-state tuition.

The SDSU campus is nestled in the heart of Brookings—ranked #5 nationwide in Livability's Best Small Towns—offering the safety of a small town with all the amenities of a big city.

Study English Language in the United States

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