English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL)

The English as a Second Language Program (ESL) at Rockford University is focused on students preparing for university study or professional programs. It is a course of study based on an integrated skills approach with listening, speaking reading, writing and grammar components.

The goal is for students to pass the TOEFL test and matriculate to an undergraduate or graduate program, preferably at Rockford University.

ESL students will experience:

  • 20 hours per week of classroom instruction
  • Learning skills to succeed in university classes
  • Full access to Rockford University library and computers, activities, cultural, free tutoring, and health facilities
  • Free campus Internet access
  • Participation in the Multicultural, Saudi, and Chinese Club on campus
  • Community Friends program
  • Global Ambassador program
  • Special cross-culture courses with U.S. undergraduate students
  • Exploring U.S. historic and cultural area excursions
  • Convenient housing in campus residence halls with Rockford University students
  • Daily opportunities to interact with U.S. undergraduate students

When looking for an intensive English program, it is important to choose the program that best fits your needs.

Why choose the ESL program at Rockford University?

High-Quality Classes and Programming

Classes are taught by professional ESL instructors with advanced degrees in teaching English as a second language. As a student in the ESL program, you will be immersed in classes that will help you develop the academic and cultural knowledge and skills you need for undergraduate or graduate school in the United States.  

Small, Personalized Classes

In ESL, most classes have less than 10 students. Having small classes enables our highly trained instructors to get to know you not just as a student, but as a person. We care about your success, and we work to create classes that are challenging and help you meet your academic and personal goals quickly.

Safe, Accessible Location

All ESL classes are held on the Rockford University campus in Rockford, Illinois, just one hour drive from Chicago, Illinois. Rockford University has the only academic-bound Intensive English Program in the area and has been providing exceptional English as a Second Language instruction since 1987. Students range from 18 to 80 years of age and come from around the world. We have taught students from Argentina, Senegal, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Mongolia, Spain, Colombia, Venezuela, Poland, Vietnam, Japan, Panama, Thailand, India, Turkey, China, France and Italy, just to name a few.

A Pathway into Rockford University Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

The ESL program is an excellent pathway into an undergraduate/graduate degree at Rockford University. If you apply to your degree program and meet all academic requirements except English language proficiency, you may be eligible for conditional admission. Students in the upper levels of the ESL may also start attending some Rockford University classes. This option enables you to adjust to University culture, develop your English, and work on your degree at the same time.

Outstanding Staff and Student Services

As an ESL student, you have full access to all Rockford University services, and there are many ways for you to be part of the campus community. You can take advantage of our library and tutoring services, clubs, gym and recreational facilities, and the health and wellness center. All ESL students participate in a cross-cultural course with Rockford University undergraduate students, which prepares ESL students not only for the global society but also provides them with the culture of RU classes.

The staff in ESL, Office of Global Affairs, and Admission are all dedicated to your success. We work together to ensure you are able to transition from the ESL into your undergraduate, graduate degree, or next professional stage.

We are also here to help you answer questions and solve problems. We want to help you succeed, and we want your time at Rockford University to be happy, productive, and memorable.

US F-1 Student Visa

All foreign students must obtain an F-1 Student Visa to study in the United States. Students will obtain an F-1 Visa application (Form I-20) once they are accepted into the Rockford University ESL program. For more information about student visas, visit

Department Information

English as a Second Language (ESL)
Burpee 2nd Floor
5050 E. State Street
Rockford, IL 61108
fax: 001-815-226-4161
Maria Diemer, ESL Coordinator

Mon-Fri – 8:30 am to 5:00 pm