English as a Second Language

UW-Madison offers instruction in English as a second language (ESL) for individuals interested in improving their proficiency and for students seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees.

The Intensive English Program at UW-Madison provides quality academic instruction to adults who wish to improve their proficiency in English. It offers full-time, 15-week programs in the Fall and Spring semesters and an 8-week Summer program. Classes range from lower-intermediate (A2) to advanced level (C1). The program does not offer beginning-level instruction (A1).

UW-Madison offers a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The program provides extensive training for prospective ESL teachers, especially for positions abroad.

Any non-native English speaker who is admitted to a UW-Madison degree program may take ESL courses. New and transfer undergraduate students who are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission must take the UW-Madison ESL Assessment Test (ESLAT) to evaluate their English language proficiency in an academic context. Depending on the results of the ESLAT, students may be required to enroll in ESL courses until they have completed ESL 118: ESL: Academic Writing II or earned an exempt score on the test.

ESL 118 satisfies the General Education Communication Part A requirement. Because students’ language proficiency is re-tested at the beginning and end of each ESL course, it is possible to move ahead or earn an exempt score at any time.  

ESL 110: Intensive English as a Second Language