Center for International Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I attend Western Illinois University if I have not yet taken the TOEFL?

A: Yes. You can take the WESL Placement Test and study English at WESL Institute; this is called Conditional Admission. After you have successfully completed the WESL program, you have met the English language requirement at Western Illinois University and can pursue a degree program on the condition that you meet the university and departmental criteria for admission

Please contact our International Admissions office for more information on our undergraduate and graduate programs.

Q: What is WESL placement test?

The WESL Placement Test is given at the beginning of each semester to each non-native-English speaking student who does not meet the English language requirement for studying at Western Illinois University. Students must take the WESL Placement Test during new student orientation week of the same semester they plan to begin their studies:  in August for each Fall semester; in January for each Spring semester; and in late May/early June for the Summer term.

Students are not allowed to take the exam earlier than the semester they plan to attend WESL and/or Western Illinois University without written permission from the WESL Director or Assistant Director. Based on the scores, students are placed into one of three levels. The WESL Placement Test includes reading, writing, listening and written structure components.

Q: What are the three different ESL course levels at WESL?

A: Foundation (Basic), Intermediate, and University Preparation (Advanced). Below are course descriptions:

Foundation (WESL 010): Basic language and academic skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking, pronunciation; reading strategies; sentence to paragraph writing, guided note-taking; conversation and simple discussion; computer skills; development of foundational language and academic skills. Orientation to American life and culture. 20 hours per week. Non-credit.

Intermediate (WESL 020): Development of intermediate language and academic skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking and pronunciation. Reading strategies; paragraph to essay writing; note-taking and lecture comprehension; discussion and speeches; computer skills. Orientation to American life and culture. 20 hours per week. Non-credit.

University Preparation (Advanced) (WESL 030): Development of advanced academic and language skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking and pronunciation; test taking; library and Internet research, essays and research paper; lecture comprehension and note-taking; interpersonal and intercultural communication; public speaking; computer skills. 20 hours per week non-credit.

Q: Once I have graduated from WESL Institute, do I need to take the TOEFL exam to enter Western Illinois University?

A: No. If you have been accepted by WIU and have successfully completed the WESL program, you do not need to take the TOEFL exam to study at WIU.

Q: What if some of my English skills are stronger than others?

A: Split-level enrollment is not offered at WESL Institute, due to the nature of our curriculum and classes.

Q: What if I need extra help with a particular skill area?

A: WESL offers an integrated skills course which focuses on grammar, pronunciation, listening, and computer lab skills to help students develop their knowledge and use of English. This course is required of all WESL students and follows the curriculum at each specific level of study.

Q: Will I get an opportunity to improve my conversation skills during classes?

A: Yes. A Conversation Mentors Program is offered at WESL in which WESL students meet with American students, professors, and members of the Macomb community to talk about various topics related to student coursework at WESL. In addition, all WESL students may participate in Conversation Partners, which is available for all international students at WIU. Weekly presentations followed by discussions are also scheduled for WESL students.

Q: Will I receive help becoming familiar with WIU & Macomb?

A: Yes! The New Student Orientation takes place the week prior to the first week of classes each semester at WIU. The Orientation leader will help you through the process of becoming acquainted with WESL, WIU, and Macomb.  Some examples of what will be covered include tours of campus and community, how to open a bank account, how to use the buses, where to get a cell phone, information on language placement tests, and we'll answer any other questions you may have.

Q: What is the background of the teachers at WESL Institute?

A: All the WESL teachers possess graduate degrees in ESL and/or ESL-related fields. They have extensive international experience - all have traveled to several countries, lived in other countries, studied abroad, and/or speak other languages - and enjoy helping students develop their English skills.