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COVID,  Director's Corner,  English Teaching Insights,  ESL,  Georgetown,  Georgetown University,  School of Continuing Studies,  TESOL

Director’s Corner: New flexibility for eight-week studies caps a period of change for Georgetown’s English Language Center

Our immediate priority after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was to ensure that Georgetown English Language Center (ELC) students, staff, and faculty were safe and that our courses continued as smoothly as possible during the transition to virtual instruction. In the process, we identified an important opportunity to plan for future program resilience by giving students more flexibility in the programs they join without sacrificing the quality and student-centered pedagogy that accompanies second language learning. 

Beginning this fall, the ELC will offer five flexible eight-week study terms for all three of its Intensive English programs (Intensive Academic English, Intensive Language & Culture, and Intensive Professional English). Previously, our Intensive Academic English program was only available for 16-week semesters starting in August and January and an 8-week summer term starting in May. However, this structure did not reflect the demand for English classes from many students who want to start preparing for undergraduate and graduate admissions immediately after graduation from high school and undergrad programs around the world. Starting with the fall 2020 semester, students can choose one or more eight-week sessions beginning in August (fall I), October (fall II), January (spring I), March (spring II), and May (summer) for all Intensive English programs.

Another important advantage of our new scheduling is that incoming students gain the ability to move from one program level to another more rapidly. This can be especially valuable for highly motivated students who wish to prepare for college or university studies and who show promise of advancing and acquiring the academic skills in a short amount of time.  This benefit also manifests for students that begin studies with us in one program and decide to switch to another based on changing study goals.

The flexibility of study terms is also enhanced by rolling application deadlines that are set as close to each term’s session course start as possible to account for changes in student life and job schedules. Keep in mind that international students must still allow time for visa consular appointments after receiving their form I-20.

In these changing and increasingly uncertain times, we are hopeful that these flexible study options will provide English language learners with more opportunities to pursue a rigorous course of English language study that is focused on academic excellence and quality classroom preparation for higher education.

Author Marcel Bolintiam is Senior Director of Georgetown’s English Language Center.