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ESL Policies

Placement Testing

An ESL Placement Test will be given to all new students to determine level placements for each subject. The placement test has 3 sections: computer-based, speaking and writing. This test is given during Orientation Week. It is especially important to arrive in the US in advance so students can rest from travel and be prepared to do their best work on the test. This is the only time when placement tests are given.

Using the Placement Test to waive or partially waive the English proficiency requirement
A student who scores level 6 in all areas may be eligible to waive ESL classes. Determinations will be made based on an interview with the student and with the approval of the ESL Faculty and Vice Provost for International Affairs. This option is only available for students enrolling January, June, or August.

Grading Scale
At the end of each eight-week term, students will be promoted to the next level or retained based on their grade in each class. Students with a final grade at 80% or above will be promoted to the next level. Students with a grade of 79% or lower will be retained in the same level.

Normal Progress
All F-1 students are required by US law to make Normal Progress in the Program of Study listed on the I-20. Students in the UNA ESL program are expected to show Normal Progress by meeting attendance requirements and passing a minimum of 3 ESL classes per term. Students who fail to meeting this Normal Progress expectation will be informed in writing and through an in-person meeting of the failure and given specific expectations for improvement. Consistent violation of Normal Progress will result in the student's dismissal from the UNA ESL program and termination of the student's Form I-20.

Students will receive a printed Normal Progress Policy and an oral presentation on this policy at the beginning of study in the UNA ESL program.

Taking Academic classes while enrolled in ESL (Co-enrollment)
ESL students who take and successfully complete two or level 5 ESL courses but have not completed all ESL classes may be allowed to take academic classes while completing the remaining ESL courses. This request to "co-enroll" must be approved by the ESL faculty. Specific conditions are listed below.

  • Students must be in all level 4 or 5 classes.
  • Students must not have had excessive absences or tardies during previous terms.
  • Students must have made adequate progress during previous semesters.
  • Successful completion of an ESL class is demonstrated by achieving an "A" for graduate students or a "B" for undergraduate students.
  • This option is only available for students registering in January, June, or August.
Completing the ESL Program (meeting English Proficiency Requirement for Admission to Academic Study)
Students seeking undergraduate admission to the University of North Alabama can meet the English proficiency requirement through one of the following:
  • Completion of all level 5 classes with an 80% grade or better and a recommendation from each teacher
  • 500 on the Institutional TOEFL + 27 on Academic Speaking Test
  • 61 on the IBT TOEFL
  • 5.5 on IELTS
Students seeking graduate admission to the University of North Alabama can meet the English proficiency requirement through one of the following:
  • Completion of all level 5 classes with a 90% grade or better and a recommendation from each teacher
  • 550 on the Institutional TOEFL + 32 on Academic Speaking Test
  • 79 on the IBT TOEFL
  • 6.0 on IELTS

EFFECTIVE MAY 23, 2017: Students who are not actively enrolled in ESL for more than four weeks during an ESL term or semester, including summer vacation, will be required to take the ESL placement test upon return. Students will be placed in the appropriate ESL courses based upon their placement test scores.