Courses & Placement

Studying ESL in the United States might involve a learning curve for some students, especially when they come from a different learning or course structure. To help you get adjusted to our summer ESL courses, we have included some of our frequently asked questions below.

Am I free to choose any class that is offered?

You are free to choose any class that is offered, as long as you meet the two years of foundational English language preparation before joining our program. We encourage students to seek out coursework that is if interest to them. However, we do perform our diagnostic when you get here, so some course alteration may be necessary, especially if we notice that you are struggling with a certain skill that is prominent in a course that you chose.

I enrolled in one course, but after attending the first class I felt that it wasn’t right for me. What should I do?

You can’t predict what a class will be like before attending that class, and we understand that changes to your schedule might be in order. If you attend a class on the first day and feel that it is not right for you, then speak to the instructor at the end of class. They might be able to guide you towards an alternative that is right for you. You can also speak with the program administrators if you need advice. Remember, we want you to settle on a schedule that is right for you because we want you to have to best experience possible. Please note though that if you are placed into a course based on diagnostic scores, then you will be required to remain in that course.

My instructor has a textbook listed for her/his course, but I think that I can get by without purchasing it. Will this be a problem?

When an instructor selects a textbook, you should assume that a large percentage of your coursework is going to come from that textbook. If you do not purchase the textbook, then you are not going to succeed in your course. We know that these texts can be pricey at times, but our instructors are very conscientious of this concern, and make all possible efforts to minimize cost. However, sometimes a textbook is necessary, and if you want to take a course, then you need to purchase the book. As a note, all book orders are placed with the UCLA bookstore and can be purchased on campus upon arrival in the United States.

I’m enrolled in an ESL course and in a non-ESL course, but I see now that the non-ESL course is moving too fast for me, and that I am having trouble keeping up. Can I switch to an additional ESL course?

Absolutely. No matter what courses you are taking you are always welcome to switch to more ESL courses. Students should note that the Summer ESL program at UCLA hires instructors who are highly trained and experienced in advanced language studies. Our instructors understand how to address language learners’ needs in meaningful ways that are based in theory and experience. Other programs at UCLA offer courses that are designed to address English language learner needs, but these courses are not affiliated with our program. If language instruction is your priority, or if you realize that you need help that you are not getting in your other courses, then we suggest exploring our ESL course offerings more fully.

My friend is enrolled in a course that I want to enroll in. Can I change courses so that we can be together?

This is possible, but we recommend taking classes that are beneficial for you, not classes that you want to be in simply because you know someone in the class. Studying abroad can be scary, and it seems less scary when you have a friend, but part of learning to use the language comes from learning to stand on your own. In all cases we recommend that you do what is right for you, not what is the safest and most secure.

I have already enrolled in my courses, but I am not sure if they are right for me. What should I do?

When it comes to summer courses, you have to pick something before you arrive. We understand this, and we expect some degree of change within the first few days. We advise you to enroll in what interests you, and then plan on attending these courses unless you are identified as a student that needs to change courses based on the diagnostic. We also recommend checking out another class if you are interested but not sure about it. Do note, however, in our ESL classes, instructors will rarely let you join their courses after Week 1. We also advise instructors not to exceed the maximum student enrollment numbers until all courses are filled.

For more detailed information, please visit the UCLA Summer Sessions website.

The diagnostic indicates that I need to take a course that I do not really wish to take. Do I have to change courses?

In cases where students are advised to alter their program of study based on diagnostic scores, students are indeed required to change course. This policy is in place for your benefit, and to ensure that the instructors have the appropriate students in their classrooms. We do not want an instructor teaching down to 3 to 4 students because they are having trouble keeping up with the course content. It is for this reason that the program requires individual course changes due to diagnostic scores to be promptly addressed.

Since I am enrolled in ESL courses only, I know that I do not have to provide official English language test scores. I also haven’t completed two full years of English language foundational studies, but I am sure that I will succeed in the program at UCLA. Can I still come?

The program reserves the right to request student transcript information if it is deemed necessary. Likewise, since all students must take the diagnostic exam, students who are flagged as beginning level will be advised to cancel their studies and seek a refund. In short, all students must abide by the program’s rule structure, and the two-year foundational requirement is necessary for your success.

My friend and I are the same proficiency, and we have studied all of the same foundational courses, yet I was told to change to a different class because my proficiency is lower. How can this be?

When it comes to language proficiency, everyone is different. The diagnostic that you take is designed to examine a range of skills. The way in which a student responds has a direct impact on how successful she or he will be in the courses we offer. Just because one person places into one class, does not mean that it is right for someone else (no matter how close you think your proficiency may be). Remember, we look at you based on you… not based on someone else.

My teacher said that I am going to need access to a computer to do my assignments. If I don’t have a computer, will I be able to do the work that is assigned to me?

Students are expected to have some form of computer access. Though most students have laptops or tablets, others may need assistance. UCLA provides several computer labs on campus that are open to students. The library also allows students to check out computers for approximately two-hour windows of time. In other words, all students should have adequate access to a computer so that they can submit coursework.

I plan on doing a lot of sightseeing while I am in the United States. I see that my planned trips are in conflict with my course requirements. Can the instructor make exceptions for me?

Each course has its requirements and due dates for assignments. Though individual instructors have different preferences, students should assume that if an assignment is due on a certain day, then it must be submitted by the due date. Remember, you are here to learn and grow, and part of learning and growing involves coming to class and doing the work that you are assigned. The program will always support the instructor in theses cases. Students should also remember that they are in the United States on a student visa, and this means that you have to perform the duties that are required of you.

My teacher gave me a grade that is lower than I thought I deserved. I would like my grade to be changed to a higher grade. Is this kind of request appropriate?

We encourage all students to have a critical eye when it comes to grading. Likewise, we require all of our instructors to keep detailed notes when assigning grades, so that a rationale can always be provided. Any student can challenge a grade if they feel that it is in need of change, but students should remember that the program selects instructors for their experience and their professionalism. When an instructor assigns a grade, it is only after examining student performance in relation to the assignment’s expectations. Students will be better at some assignments than they are at others, and individual performance should be honestly considered before making such a request.

My class begins really early, and I like to stay out late and have fun in the evening. Is it okay to skip class or to routinely be late?

There is only one answer for this question: No. You are here to learn, not here to simply hang out. Though we encourage everyone to have fun and to make the most of their experience here, we also remind everyone that course enrollment means course obligations. In a short 6-week course, absence or tardiness in excess is just unacceptable. Students should also remember that they are in the United States on a student visa, and this means that you have to perform the duties that are required of you.

I use my cellphone as a dictionary. Is it okay to use technology in the classroom?

Different instructors have different preferences when it comes to technology in the classroom, so you will need to speak with your individual instructors to be sure of their policy. This is because cellphones can be problematic, especially if an instructor notices people texting or simply surfing at their leisure. As a general rule of thumb, check with the instructor to be certain.

You can also download our interactive brochure for more details on our course offerings, by clicking on our Summer English Language Studies at UCLA – Flyer – 2016.
 If there is a question or concern that you need answered, but which is not represented here, please contact the program coordinators at We would love to hear from you!