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 a baccalaureate or graduate program, preferably at Rockford University.

The ESL program offers a high quality English program for degree-seeking students. We strive to meet or exceed our students’ expectation for developing their linguistics and academic skills. Students are supported to make the transition from their own countries to life in the United States. Our small classes enable us to meet the ordinary and extraordinary need of our students, ensuring that their experience at the ESL is productive and fulfilling. We are accredited by the Higher Education Commission Association of Colleges and Schools.

Important: Our minimum age requirement is 18 years. All beginning students must have some prior study of English and be able to use or understand 200-400 words in English.

Intensive English Program

We offer a full-time Intensive English Program, with integrated classes in reading/writing, listening/speaking and grammar. These classes are supported with an enrichment class that includes an online component that offers academic skill practice and personalized learning, reading workshop and writing lab. Academic skills such as inferencing, note taking, and test taking helps students develop strategies for academic course work and passing the TOEFL. This program is ideal for international students who want to get undergraduate or graduate degrees at an American college or university. It is also great for people that want to improve their English for business or other job opportunities.

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

Did You Know?

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. This allows us to issue I-20 forms for international students who need an F-1 Visa to study in the USA. Many Rockford residents have friends and family members visiting from other countries. Quite a few of those students are enriching their education and experience by studying English at Rockford University. 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, to name a few.

Provisional Admittance

International students may apply for provisional admittance to Rockford University’s undergraduate or graduate degree programs. The university encourages applications from a diverse population and recognizes that, for some prospective students, English is not the first language. Through the admission evaluation process, the University may determine that, although students are academically prepared for university course work, their knowledge of and skills in written and spoken English are not sufficient for participation in university level classes. Applicants who may be included in this group are foreign nationals and other non-native speakers, as well as immigrants who have citizenship or legal resident status. In such cases, non-native English speaking international applicants to Rockford University will be granted provisional admission to Rockford University pending verification of the following:

  • The student meets the specified grade point average requirement for admission (undergraduate admission requires a 2.65/4.0 or greater for first-year applicant, 2.3/4.0 or greater for a transfer applicant).
  • The student provides proof through a notarized affidavit of support and official bank statements that they can afford to pay for a year of tuition after any and all merit-based financial aid has been factored in.
  • The student has submitted all additional materials outlined above to the school.
  • The student’s TOEFL score is below the accepted score of a 77 (Internet-based test), the IELTS (academic version) score is below the accepted 5.5 band score, or the student cannot provide Rockford University with a TOEFL score for unique reasons.
  • Declaration of a major.

As a provisional admit, the student would be required to begin their studies at the appropriate level of Rockford University’s I program. The student would be provided with an I-20 tying their ELS studies into a four-year degree program. The student’s provisional status will be removed and they will matriculate into accredited course work after the following stipulations have been met:

  • The student has successfully completed their required studies in the English Language Institute at Rockford University.
  • The student has provided the school with an official and appropriate TOEFL or IELTS* score.

*IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. 

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