students talk and study at a table

English Language Center Offers Courses Accessible to Students Around the World

  • Jul 23, 2020
  • Jenan Taha

English language learners can access high-quality English courses from anywhere in the world through the English Language Center, which is offering immersive full-time and part-time classes this fall. 

The English Language Center began offering live online courses in March and continued virtual classes through the summer, including the Academic English Program, English Language Program and International Academy. Now, the latest cohort of students is graduating and setting off to various colleges and careers around the world.

Jaime Ortega first began taking English classes at UT last summer to begin learning and improving his English. Since then, he’s excelled in several English courses for the past three semesters and hopes to pursue a master’s program in the future.

“When I arrived in Austin in August 2019, my English was almost nothing,” Ortega said. “Now I can communicate better than before with my classmates and English speakers.”

Ortega enrolled in the Academic English Program this past spring and participated in the online program this summer from his home country of Panama. While the virtual classroom experience is different, Ortega says the experience has been worth it.

“I think virtual classes have been excellent, despite no one expecting to start learning this way,” he said. “You can take classes in any part of the world.”

a view of a zoom gallery with dozens of students

Korean international student Sujin Park is pursuing her second master’s in civil engineering and is currently studying English virtually in Austin. She says the English Language Center helped her gain confidence in her English speaking and improve her writing skills.

“When I came to the U.S., I was not proud of speaking English,” Park said. “Fortunately, in the AEP program, all teachers were professional and hospitable and all my classmates were friendly. It helped me to be proud of speaking English. I was able to learn what kinds of words were used in America and the academic writing skills in graduate school. [I received] a score of 4.0 in the writing session of the GRE!”

Instructor Emily Spurgeon has been teaching English at the center for over 10 years. With the transition to virtual classes, she says she enjoys working with students taking classes from their home countries around the globe.

“I am constantly adapting, creating new activities and materials, and working with brilliant students from all over the world,” Spurgeon said. “Most of my students are here in Austin but some are taking our classes from their homes in Venezuela, China, Turkey and Brazil. My job is never boring!”

Spurgeon says one of the greatest advantages of virtual classes is the greater accessibility to students who are unable to meet in-person. Classes are also recorded to allow students to review the lesson—another benefit to the virtual format.

The English Language Center boasts excellent programs with a diverse set of bright students, Spurgeon says.

“We have a wonderful team of highly skilled, experienced teachers and administrators who support our students’ learning, from our immigration advisors to our university librarians,” she said. “Even online, we are able to tap into all the great resources that UT offers. Our program attracts a diverse group of students from all over the world, and from various fields and backgrounds, who are all excited to learn.”

Classes range from English language proficiency programs like the Academic English Program and English Language Program to English teacher training certifications. Each class is taught by an experienced faculty member who provides each student with individualized feedback to improve fluency and accuracy. Programs are offered partially or fully online and there are also options for self-paced learning and in-person courses. 

Each program also offers workshops, academic advising, conversation practice groups and virtual social events for students to get to know their classmates. All students have access to UT’s virtual library resources and other services from our globally-ranked university.

Find a program and apply