Program Design

Program Design

Apply Now


The ELI offers the following six levels of intensive English study:

Level Student Skill Level CEFR Level
1 low beginning A1
2 high beginning A1/A2
3 low intermediate A2/B1
4 high intermediate B1
5 low advanced B1/B2
6 high advanced B2/C1

Students are placed into classes at the appropriate levels of study based on their results on the ELI Placement Exam, which is administered on the first day of each session.

The average size of ELI classes is 10 students; however, individual classes may be smaller or larger. Typically a maximum of 18 students is allowed in one IEP class. There is no minimum number of students per class, but sometimes classes may be combined when enrollment is low. In cases of combined levels, teachers will maintain differentiated instruction for students of distinct levels.

Core Classes

Core classes, which meet for a total of 20 hours per week, are the foundation of the ELI program of study. “Required core classes” are offered each session at each level and consist of the following:

Class Levels Hours per Week
Reading/Writing 1-6 9
Speaking/Listening 1-6 6
Structure (grammar) 1-6 5

A student may be placed into a different level for each required core class, depending on his or her ability in that area. For example, a student may have Reading/Writing 3, Speaking/Listening 4, and Structure 2. Students advance from level to level as a result of the grades they earn in each of their required core classes; students who excel may be eligible to skip a level.

During the Fall and Spring sessions, University of Alabama students join the ELI’s Speaking/Listening 5 and 6 classes twice a week. This provides ELI students the opportunity to interact with American students. Topics for the classes include current events, films, music, and culture.

Elective Classes

Students who meet the designated criteria to take elective classes may choose to substitute them for core classes (without paying extra tuition) or to take them in addition to core classes (by paying extra tuition). Elective classes, however, do not serve as substitutes for required core classes in terms of earning an ELI Certificate of Proficiency or Completion. Most elective classes assign final grades that count toward each student’s ELI GPA. Students may not substitute more than one elective class for a core class per session.

Examples of class offerings include the following: Business + English and Engineering + English.


The ELI offers non-graded, session-long workshops every session. The workshops meet twice a week. Workshop topics include iBT TOEFL, IELTS, and Pronunciation.

Culturally Speaking

Culturally Speaking is an optional conversation class in which ELI students meet with US students for informal conversation, primarily about cultural topics. The class meets for 2 hours per week. Culturally Speaking is held during ELI Fall and Spring sessions only; it is not offered during ELI Summer sessions.

ELI Seminars

ELI Seminars are offered on Wednesday and Friday afternoons during each IEP session. These seminars, which meet for 1 hour, are optional and free of charge to students enrolled in the IEP. A schedule of the seminars available each session is available at the beginning of the session, and students who wish to attend a particular seminar must sign up in the ELI office by 3:00 pm on the day before the seminar.

Examples of seminar topics include the following: Advertising, American/Alabama Football, American Idioms, Spelling in English, Civil Rights in Alabama, Celebrating Halloween, Celebrating Thanksgiving, and Geocaching.

Student Activities

Each session, the ELI plans a variety of activities that allow students to visit areas in Alabama and in the southeastern United States, practice their English skills, and become better acquainted with their teachers and each other. Typical student activities include movies, concerts, shopping, recreational sports, and weekend trips to nearby locations–the beach, the mountains, and cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis.

Study Center

When not in class, ELI students may use the ELI Study Center, where they can check out books, listen to audio materials, and watch videos, including popular movies. In addition, students can receive individual instruction and assistance from qualified tutors in the ELI Study Center.

Class Schedules

For core classes, students typically have RW (Reading/Writing) and SL (Speaking/Listening) classes in the morning and STR (Structure, or Grammar) classes in the early afternoon. Some core classes have alternate meeting times.

Elective courses are scheduled in several different time slots, and Cultural Speaking courses are scheduled in the afternoons.

Sample Schedule – Fall/Spring

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:00 Study Center Open Study Center Open
9:00 RW RW RW
9:30 RW RW
11:00 SL or elective SL or elective SL or elective SL or elective SL or elective
12:00 Lunch
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
12:30 Friday Seminar (optional)
1:00 STR or elective STR or elective STR or elective STR or elective
2:00 Culturally Speaking (optional) Culturally Speaking (optional)
2:30 Workshop (optional) Study Center Open Workshop (optional) Study Center Open
3:00 Study Center Open Study Center Open


Sample Schedule – Summer

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:00 Workshop (optional) Workshop (optional) Workshop (optional) Workshop (optional)
9:00 SL or elective (9:00-10:20) SL or elective SL or elective SL or elective SL or elective
10:30 RW (10:35-12:45) RW RW RW RW
1:00 Lunch
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
Study Center Open
2:00 STR or elective (1:45-3:15) STR or elective STR or elective STR or elective Friday Seminar (optional)
3:30 Study Center Open Study Center Open Study Center Open Study Center Open



1) Students register from available class times each session and typically take all three core classes.
2) Core classes in all levels (Levels 1 – 6) are offered each session.
3) Electives are typically limited to particular levels of study and are not offered in each time slot every session.

Apply Now