IEP Courses

The St. Mary’s University Intensive English Program currently offers four progressive levels of intensive English and an optional level called University Preparation. During the academic year we also offer the higher level students, as needed, IELTS Test Preparation, TOEFL Test Preparation, and various other courses that support Intensive English Program students to succeed when they cross over to the academic community.

Courses include:

  • How to make an academic presentation
  • How to write a grant
  • How to write a research paper
  • Our class schedule follows a 14-week semester. We offer 20 hours of English class for each week.

Coursework for the four levels is divided into three sets of classes: Reading and Writing, Listening and Speaking and Grammar.

Our Listening and Speaking classes are designed to help students use and understand lexicon, using a variety of registers, but specifically focusing upon the academic register. Likewise, the Reading and Writing classes challenge students to read a variety of texts, specifically those that are academically grounded. They then employ these texts as models to generate academic writing, with each level requiring them to improve and enhance their literacy skills. Grammar classes review, based on levels, all aspects of English grammar, and require students to understand grammatical constructions and to identify them in texts, and in addition, to actively apply these grammatical constructions in their own writing.

Instructors expect that students put in a minimum of two hours of homework time per class (Listening and Speaking; Reading and Writing; Grammar) per week. Attendance is counted, along with homework and class participation. The breakdown of our grading system is as follows: 15% Participation; 10% Homework; 10% Quizzes; 25% Assignments/Tests; 20% Midterm and Final. Our grading system follows St Mary’s policy: 90-100 A; 80-89 B; 70-79 C; 60-69 D; below 60 F.


Level One

Level One: Reading and Writing

The learning outcomes for Level One assist students in grasping the main ideas of a given text. Orthographic control is reviewed. Students will learn to read and comprehend directions, write simple paragraphs using basic verb tenses, and start to increase vocabulary at the academic register. The instructor emphasizes brainstorming, group work, and collaborative tasks.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understanding the writing process
  • Using details to clarify ideas
  • Presenting one main idea in a paragraph
  • Scan text for basic information
  • Define the sequence of a narrative passage
  • Edit writing for basic punctuation

Level One: Listening and Speaking

The learning outcomes for Level One allow students to understand and become familiar with familiar and everyday expressions in English. Students will be able to ask and answer questions regarding basic personal and family information; environment and geography; moods and emotions. This level is task oriented in order to build competencies for both academic and personal survival.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understanding the speakers purpose
  • Giving feedback when listening
  • Use short phrases to give and receive information and directions
  • Respond to warnings and commands
  • Make small talk

Level One: Grammar

The learning outcomes for Level One require students to correctly and use identify parts of speech, plural markers, negative verb forms, possessive pronouns, prepositions of time and frequency, and simple compound connectors: and, or, but, and so. Additionally, students are expected to generate assignments following a format, employ simple punctuation and capitalization, and learn to use an English dictionary.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Review of the simple tenses, possessive, count and non count nouns
  • Adjective overview: comparatives and superlatives
  • Examine passive voice, gerunds, conditional and adverbial clauses
  • Compose simple sentences in simple present and simple past
  • Fill out basic forms

Level Two

Level Two: Reading and Writing

The learning outcomes for Level Two are designed to help students use chunking in regard to phrases and grammatical patterns in order to read and construct comprehensible texts that surpass those of Level One. Students will be able to evaluate written texts for information and opinions, and generate short opinion oriented essays. They will be able to write explanations of procedures and processes.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Scanning for details
  • Identifying sequence
  • Using synonyms
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Formulate judgments about key ideas in a text
  • Write directions, instructions and recipes

Level Two: Listening and Speaking

The learning outcomes for Level Two require students to familiarize themselves with several varieties of English, and to listen for comprehension and understanding. Students will be able to produce basic language, allowing them to effectively interact with peers and teachers.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Express hope, fear, disappointment, sympathy, apology, regret, etc.
  • Learning about body language in relation to cultural norms
  • Interpreting speakers’ tone and attitude
  • Organizing ideas for a group presentation
  • Increasing academic vocabulary/ understanding idiomatic versus academic register
  • Basic note-taking while listening
  • Present short five-minute PowerPoint

Level Two: Grammar

The learning outcomes for Level Two require students to correctly identify and use the English verb tenses and voice in sentences. Students generate simple paragraphs that employ phrases and clauses. Word choice and register are examined in texts and used as models for students to generate grammatically and lexically appropriate writing.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Effective use of all the verb tenses
  • Effective understanding and usage of simple, compound and complex sentences
  • Appropriate use of the English parts of speech
  • Greater understanding of word choice and register

Level Three

Level Three: Reading and Writing

The learning outcomes for Level Three will help students to explain the main points of an essay theme or thesis with precision. Logical order and coherence are emphasized. Students recognize how written texts are organized, signposted and sequenced in English.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identifying main and supporting ideas
  • Well-developed body paragraphs
  • Write short, persuasive essays of 800 words
  • Enhancing academic register via Latin/Greek roots
  • Use subtle transitions in writing effective essays
  • Can skim and scan academic texts to write simple abstracts

Level Three: Listening and Speaking

The learning outcomes for Level Three require students to make significant strides in understanding authentic oral texts, which in turn will advance their academic and idiomatic registers. They will refine their note taking abilities, orally paraphrase texts and podcasts, and offer clear synopses of what they hear. The instructor will continue to focus on pronunciation, emphasizing intonation patterns. Non-verbal communication signals will be reviewed as well.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Emphasis on key words
  • Predicting content
  • Explaining a process
  • Understanding and evaluating texts from visual and digital media
  • Describe unpredictable situations

Level Three: Grammar

The learning outcomes for Level Three include a review of the English tense system. Students should be able to peer-teach verb aspects, determiners, and the English parts of speech. Students will be comfortable using compound sentences that include various clauses and parts of speech.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Comprehensive review of verb tenses
  • Active engagement of passive and active voice
  • Work with Past modals
  • Work with adjectival clauses

Level Four

Level Four: Reading and Writing

The learning outcomes for Level Fours require students to generate proficiency in writing an academic research essay. They will understand the use of paraphrase, summary, direct and indirect quotations, and how to cite academic sources. The instructor will show and demonstrate various academic Style Guides. Four essays will be written during the semester: argumentative, persuasive, comparative, and narrative. Ludic devices may also be deconstructed and applied in writing.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identifying subjects in complex sentences
  • Research and note-taking
  • Supporting a thesis
  • Writing essays of 3,000 words each

Level Four: Listening and Speaking

The learning outcomes for Level Four require students to employ a wide ranging vocabulary, including idiomatic expressions, with ease and fluency. They may have mild lexical slips but no major vocabulary errors. Their speech patterns and pronunciation will have logical structure, and they can effectively describe, interpret, and explain academic topics with minimal errors. Students will engage in extensive group activities, including debates, and present their research using PowerPoint and or posters. Peer evaluations and group work emphasized.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Synthesizing information
  • Responding to and refuting an argument
  • Using numbers and statistics
  • Evaluating complex academic tables, charts, and graphics

Level Four: Grammar

The learning outcomes for Level Four require students to understand sentence structure and style, and generate complex sentences, phrases and clauses when writing essays. Students become comfortable with self-editing ad peer editing. Students review present and past participles, as well as the use of passive voice in academic writing, is also included.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Comprehensive review of all aspects of the verb; tense, voice, gerunds
  • Ability to generate coordinating conjunctions and modals correctly in short essays
  • Mastery over subject and verb agreement and articles in essay format
  • Generate subordinate and gerund clauses as transitions

University Preparation

University Preparation: Reading and Writing

This course is designed to hone essay and research oriented writing skills. Students will read a variety of academic publications, essays, and papers to deconstruct academic writing. Next, they will learn how to effectively use the library to conduct academic research. After writing a series of practice essays, students will choose a topic, write a draft, revise, edit, and submit a paper, formatted and written according to a specific style guide. One-on-one conference style meetings are optional.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To understand and experience academic research processes
  • To write an academic research paper (2,000-5,000 words)
  • To read abstracts of research papers and be able to generate an abstract
  • To understand and use a style manual
  • To understand and experience the editing/review processes
  • Understand idiomatic speech in context and the history of the idiom
  • Summarize a large text by speaking for three minutes

University Preparation: Grammar

This course is designed to have students actively use grammar in context – specifically, by reading and writing at an advanced level. Students will explore a variety of texts, identify complex grammatical structures, and then, using these structures as models, create their own sentences, paragraphs and essays. Self-editing is emphasized.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To read and comprehend complex academic texts
  • To use these texts as models to generate academic writing
  • To understand the ways in which grammar influences academic writing
  • To present and teach a complex grammatical subject to a lower level class
  • Infer the meaning of new words in context
  • Use prepositions and articles like a native speaker

University Preparation: Academic Presentation Skills

Students will be able to plan and deliver well-organized presentations that include using PPT slides appropriately and effectively. The fundamentals of presenting information in public, as well as the specific academic presentation style, will be modeled. During this class, students engage in peer evaluations, practice sessions, revision sessions, and one-on-one conferencing with their instructor.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To generate a specific thesis and organize a talk around this topic
  • To effectively present and argue a thesis using PowerPoint for 10-20 minutes
  • To understand and experience the practice/review/editorial processes involved in creating a presentation
  • To learn how to evaluate presentations
  • Communicate facts and speak casually on a variety of academic topics
  • Evaluate content of a conceptually and linguistically complex discourse
  • Take logical and coherent notes regarding presentations/lectures

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