ESL becomes EAP

UPDATE: As of 2013, Union College no longer offers an English language program. 

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The Union College Division of Humanities recently announced that the English as a Second Language program (ESL) has transitioned to a new name: English for Academic Purposes (EAP).

“The name ESL has been around for so long it, was time for an update to something more accurate,” said Peggy Whalen, director of EAP.  “We finally settled on EAP because it is more descriptive of the goal of the program.”

The English for Academic Purposes program at Union College is intended to prepare students for academic coursework at an English-speaking higher education institution. While many alternatives were considered, such as English for Language Learners (ELL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL), EAP resonates more with the specialization of Union's program and is increasingly used in other educational institutions. 

“The new name more accurately reflects the goals of our program and communicates more clearly to our audiences,” said Michelle Velazquez Mesnard, chair of the Division of Humanities. “Our program has always been focused on helping students learn English in a way that will benefit their academic pursuits, but now will now also be inclusive of native English speakers who are not ready for the dialect of academia.”

Many foreign students enroll in the EAP program to learn English before pursuing a degree here in America. However, others have already completed university degrees and want to improve their English so they can pursue higher academic or career goals. Most stay in the program long enough to achieve English proficiency as measured by Test of English as a Foriegn Language (TOEFL), but the program also offers an Associate of Science with an emphasis in English as a Second Language and subject endorsement for education majors.

A new facet to the program focuses on helping native English speakers polish their understanding of the language and become better prepared for college-level material before launching into typical writing classes.

“We are here to help improve students’ English skills and help them succeed—whether they are learning English as a foreign language or their first,” Whalen said.

To learn more about the EAP program, visit the program's site

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