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.

Calendar: Rockford University offers spring, summer and fall terms. Sessions start every 8 weeks, year-round. For specific start dates, please see the ESL Academic Calendar. 

Program Costs:

Application Fee
Tuition per semester
Tuition for half semester
Health Insurance
This is a state requirement. All students must have health insurance.*This price is good only for the first year an international student is in the US.
$ 125.00
$ 4,800.00
$ 2,400.00
$ 150.00 per month*

Length of Program: Students join us for 1 to 18 months, depending on their language goals. We recommend a minimum of 4 sessions for students to realize a substantial change in language proficiency; however, because the program focuses on language learning, no matter how long your stay with us, all students have the opportunity to increase their proficiency and receive long-term benefits from the program.

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

Why choose the ESL program at Rockford University?

Schedule: Classes are held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. This provides 20 hours of English instruction per week.

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.

Our Teachers: We have a wonderful group of teachers that are here to help the students learn in a fun and positive way. 

Meet our staff!

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.

Course Descriptions

Grammar (G)

Grammar classes uses a four-step approach which takes students from context to communication – blending content, reading, writing, listening, speaking and critical thinking in a complete program, and preparing students to understand and use English more effectively. This class is centered on thematic instruction which allows students to interact with grammar in realistic contexts and moves them beyond controlled practice to authentic communication. This class offers readings which exposes students to different genres and gives them the opportunity to use grammar in an authentic manner.  Explicit pronunciation activities give students the opportunity to practice their pronunciation fluency and accuracy.

Reading / Writing (R/W)

Reading/Writing classes teach students effective reading strategies, which will improve their reading comprehension, reading speed, and ability to summarize texts. Students will read extensively to build vocabulary and learn how to predict meaning and minimize dictionary dependence. Through daily and weekly writing assignments, students focus on effective writing strategies progressing from sentence to paragraph to essay development.  Students study various types of writing objectives and learn how best to focus on clarity, cohesiveness, and interest for audience. Reading, writing, and speaking opportunities are combined when students read articles, write summaries and present the summaries to their classmates. Although some classes focus specifically on grammar, based on students’ language levels, both reading and writing classes cover grammar components within the context of materials studied.  Mini grammar lessons provide awareness and clarity of grammar aspects as students read and analyze reading and writing.

Listening/Speaking (L/S)

Although all ESL classes integrate listening and speaking opportunities through student participation, specific classes focus on strategies for effective listening and speaking.  Pronunciation and enunciation instruction and practice help students speak more clearly.  Students have many opportunities through class participation and presentations to listen and speak.  Class presentations given at the end of each session allow students to learn effective presentation skills and gain confidence in speaking.  Our language lab provides additional listening and pronunciation instruction and practice which includes online access 24/7.

Academic Preparation (AP)

Academic Preparation classes integrate all four language domains through thematic units which range from business to science and global issues.  In this class students learn how to share ideas by understanding and responding to ideas in the content of English.  Students will participate in multi level projects such as an ESL newspaper and formal debates.  There is also a focus on TOEFL preparation which gives students the strategies necessary to pass this English proficiency test.

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

Maggie Kasicki, ESL/OGA Coordinator

Mon-Fri – 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Maggie Kasicki

ESL/OGA Coordinator of Global Affairs
(815) 703-1133