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Second Language Studies

College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature
Moore 570
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8610
Fax: (808) 956-2802
Web: www.hawaii.edu/sls


*Graduate Faculty

*R. Gibson, PhD (Chair)—second language learning and teaching, classroom research, teacher training, bilingual education, Pacific languages and literacy, program administration
*R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—English syntax, second-language analysis, formal models of language acquisition
*C. Chaudron, PhD (Graduate Chair)—classroom-centered research, discourse analysis, psycholinguistics, research methods, second-language acquisition
*J. D. Brown, PhD—language testing, research methods, curriculum design
*G. Crookes, PhD—classroom teaching, classroom-centered research, materials and syllabus design, discourse analysis, methodology of science
*K. Davis, PhD—qualitative research methods, language policy and planning, literacy, bilingual education
*R. Day, PhD—teacher education, teaching of reading and listening/speaking, vocabulary, global issues and language teaching
C. Higgins, PhD—macro- and micro-sociolinguistics, qualitative research methods, conversational analysis, code-switching
*T. Hudson, PhD—language testing, reading, methods and materials, English for specific purposes, research methods
*G. Kasper, PhD—second-language discourse analysis, pragmatics, learning strategies, qualitative research methods
*J. Norris, PhD—instructed SL acquisition, SL pedagogy and task-based language teaching, language program evaluation, language assessment, testing, measurement, research methods, research synthesis and meta-analysis
*L. Ortega-Alvarez-Ossorio, PhD—SL acquisition, SL writing, foreign language education, research methods
*R. Schmidt, PhD—sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, second-language acquisition
*B. Schwartz, PhD—linguistic theory and SL acquisition and analysis, Universal Grammar, child second language acquisition
*K. Wolfe-Quintero, PhD—second-language analysis and acquisition, comparative grammar, pedagogic grammar, writing
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
D. Ashworth, PhD—adult second-language acquisition, language-teaching methodology, computer-assisted language instruction
M. Forman, PhD—sociolinguistics, pidgins and creoles, children’s speech
A. Peters, PhD—child language acquisition, language socialization
K. Rehg, PhD—second-language phonology

Degrees Offered: BA in interdisciplinary studies (English as a second language), MA in English as a second language, PhD in second language acquisition (interdisciplinary), Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies

The Academic Program

Formerly called the Department of English as a Second Language, the faculty and course work in the Department of Second Language Studies (SLS) have evolved toward a wider view of the sudy of second- and foreign-language learning and teaching in general. The department’s programs train students for professional careers in second-/foreign-language education, which includes teaching, teacher training, materials preparation, curriculum/syllabus design, language assessment, and research. Through course work and independent research, students acquire a broad knowledge base and familiarity with the conduct of research, as well as a sense of professionalism in second-language studies.
Employment opportunities in this field have been expanding rapidly, both nationally and internationally, in all types of educational and occupational institutions (e.g., elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels; publishing; test development for international agencies; language-training programs for businesses).

The department, whose MA program dates back to 1961, is frequently referred to as the best such program in the world. It includes a wide range of general and specialized courses. It has the largest faculty with specialization in second-language studies of any institution in the world. Its faculty members are well respected nationally and internationally through their involvement in scholarly research and publishing projects, including editorship of books or editorial advisory status on major journals, as well as extensive authorship of journal articles and books. The department enjoys advanced technical support facilities and excellent library resources. It attracts top-quality students and maintains a variety of services and activities that stimulate a high level of student satisfaction and collaboration, including post-graduation employment advice and assistance.


The department is affiliated with (institutional member of) the American Association for Applied Linguistics and the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. SLS faculty members (J. D. Brown, C. Chaudron, and R. Schmidt) have served on the executive boards of these organizations. Department faculty are also editors of the international journals Applied Linguistics (G. Kasper) and Reading in a Foreign Language (R. Day, T. Hudson), and have been actively involved in the organizing boards of the Second Language Research Forum and the Pacific Second Language Research Forum.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

The equivalent of an undergraduate major in ESL is available in the BA program in interdisciplinary studies. For information regarding this degree, contact the SLS chair or the department’s interdisciplinary studies adviser.

Graduate Study

The department offers the MA degree in English as a second language and the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies. The UH offers the PhD degree in second language acquisition, an interdisciplinary program administered by the SLS department. See the “Second Language Acquisition” section within the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, for a description of the PhD program.

Master’s Degree

The main goal of the MA program is to serve the needs of prospective and practicing teachers, administrators, and researchers in the area of teaching English to speakers of other languages. Attention is given to the areas of second- and foreign-language acquisition, applied psycholinguistics, second-language use, second-language classroom research, bilingual education, curriculum development, and teacher education.

The program emphasizes theory as well as practice. In addition to the courses dealing with approaches to language teaching, materials, and testing, core courses are concerned with the linguistic, psychological, and sociological aspects of language. These latter courses, which are primarily theoretical, are designed to provide an essential foundation on which the more practically oriented ones can build. The emphasis on theory in certain core courses should be kept in mind by potential applicants.

The MA in ESL does not result in a teaching credential. Contact the College of Education for more information regarding State of Hawai‘i teacher certification.

Entry into the MA program is possible in the fall semester only. The GRE General Test is required of all native English speakers. Scores should be sent to the department. Students whose native language is not English are required to have a minimum TOEFL score of 600, 620 preferred.

Two to three letters of recommendation are also required; forms are available from the department.

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, outlining their objectives in graduate study and reasons for applying.

This maximum five-page essay should focus on their experiences and training in languages, language learning, and/or language teaching, and how these relate to their long-term goals as professionals in the field of second-language learning and teaching.

Students admitted conditionally are placed on academic probation for their first semester. Students admitted as regular students whose cumulative GPA fails to meet the minimum requirements after completing at least 12 credit hours or two semesters of course work will be placed on academic probation in the following semester for the duration of the semester.

All students in the MA program, whether Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C, are expected to have undergone second- or foreign-language learning (two years of college study or equivalent). Students who have not had such experience before entering the program are required to take at least a semester of language study, which does not count toward the 39-credit-hour MA requirement.

Plan A (Thesis) Requirements

  • Eight core courses (24 credits): SLS 441, 490, 600, 640, 650, 660, 690, 710
  • One graduate seminar: SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Two electives (6 credits) approved by the adviser
  • SLS 700 Thesis (6 credits)

Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements

  • Eight core courses (24 credits): SLS 441, 490, 600, 640, 650, 660, 690, 710
  • One graduate seminar: SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Four electives (12 credits) approved by the adviser
  • Submission of an acceptable scholarly paper

Plan C Requirements

Plan C is a special program individually planned for each student. It is intended for established language scholars who wish to pursue additional studies and receive academic credit. Typically, Plan C scholars already have an MA or PhD degree in a foreign language, applied linguistics, or a closely related field.

Plan C students are exempt from the specific core requirements of the other plans. Plan C students take a qualifying examination (written) and a final examination (written and oral). A Plan C scholarly paper is required. In addition, Plan C students must meet the Graduate Division residence requirements of two semesters of full-time work or a period of enrollment that is equivalent in credits.

Admissibility to Plan C is determined by the department’s admissions committee or within the first semester after arrival. At that time a committee is established to recommend courses and supervise the student’s course plan. Scholars accepted for Plan C generally have the following qualifications:

  1. No less than five years of full-time experience working in the field of second- or foreign language education;
  2. At least two years of administrative, teacher-training, or materials-development responsibility; and
  3. An outstanding academic record and a high performance on the GRE.

Additional information concerning the program and its requirements is contained in the SLS program brochure. The topics covered include financial aid, transfer of credit, and requirements such as the scholarly paper. Prospective applicants are urged to obtain this brochure from the graduate chair. Applications for graduate assistantships and tuition waivers are also available.

Advanced Graduate Certificate

The Advanced Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies provides advanced training to those who already have graduate degrees (master’s, doctorate) in applied linguistics, foreign languages, ESL, or related fields. The program is specifically aimed at those who wish to re-specialize or to update their training to include recent developments in the field. Graduate students enrolled in other programs at UH are also permitted to apply for the certificate while they concurrently are completing another graduate degree.

The course of study typically lasts about two semesters and includes 15 credits (five courses) and a research paper (scholarly paper) to be produced during the program. Up to 9 credits of course work may be transferred from a prior program. Students who complete the certificate in SLS will have obtained current knowledge and skills in second language studies, including a knowledge base in second language analysis, learning, pedagogy, and use, in utilization of research findings and application of research methods.

Applicants must have completed an MA or PhD degree in an appropriate field, or they must be a continuing student in an MA or PhD program in an appropriate field at UH, by the time they begin study for the Certificate. Other application procedures are similar to those for the MA in ESL; contact the Graduate Chair for specific information and guidelines on application.

As a culminating activity in the program, students are required to submit a paper which demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent scholarly research of high quality. This paper must be new research (i.e. different from prior MA level work) conducted under supervision of the program’s faculty.

The graduate faculty of second language acquisition is in charge of the program; see the listing under “Second Language Acquisition.”

Doctoral Degree

See the “Second Language Acquisition” section within the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, for information regarding the interdisciplinary PhD in second language acquisition.

English Language Institute

College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature
Moore 570
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8479
Fax: (808) 956-2802
E-mail: uhmeli@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/eli

The English Language Institute (ELI) is located in the Department of Second Language Studies. The ELI’s primary purpose is to provide English instruction for international and immigrant students, or others, whose native language is not English so as to facilitate their academic studies at the UH. The ELI program is only for students who have been admitted to the UH.

All international and immigrant students admitted to the UH are referred to the ELI to determine if they must take the ELI placement test before registering for UH courses. If a student does not fulfill this obligation, the ELI will place a hold on the student’s registration. The ELI placement test is generally offered three times at the beginning of each semester. Information about the testing dates and times can be found on the ELI website or the UH Manoa Registration Homepage. Students can sign up for ELI placement tests online or in person at Moore 570 prior to the testing date.

ELI Exemptions

Students are exempt from taking the ELI placement test under the following conditions: (a) the student is a native speaker of English; (b) the student has received a score of 600 or better on the paper-based TOEFL, or a score of 250 or better on the computer-based TOEFL; (c) the student has received a score of 460 or better on the verbal section of the GRE; (d) the student has received a score of 460 or better on the verbal section of the SAT if taken before April 1995 or a score of 540 or better if taken in April 1995 or thereafter; (e) the student has an AA degree from a community college within the UH system; (f) the student has obtained the equivalent of 60 transferable semester credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. or from a university whose academic standing is recognized by the UH and where English is the primary language of instruction; or (g) the student has completed six years of full-time schooling with English as the medium of instruction at a middle school, high school, college, or university in Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the U.S. Documentation of all six years is required.

These exemption criteria apply at the time students are admitted to the UH. An exemption on the basis of one of these criteria may be automatically granted by the UH, or it may be granted by the ELI office if the student can provide the appropriate documentation, including official transcripts or test results.

Assignment to ELI Courses

All other international or immigrant students who have been admitted to the UH must take the ELI placement test before they can register for courses. Placement into ELI courses or exemption from ELI courses will be based on the test results. Students pursuing online degrees should contact the ELI Assistant Director for further information. All ELI courses must be completed within the first year of study at the UH. Students who do not complete ELI coursework as planned may not be allowed to graduate.

Relationship to Other Course Work

ELI courses are equivalent to 3-credit courses when considering a student’s course load. Students placed into ELI courses need to reduce the number of additional credit courses they can take and should expect to make slower progress in their regular UH studies. This is an especially important factor in some graduate programs and should be considered carefully by students whose time or financial support is limited.

Hawai‘i English Language Program

College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature
Makai Campus 13-1
1395 Lower Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-6636
Fax: (808) 956-5100
E-mail: eslhelp@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/eslhelp

The Hawai‘i English Language Program (HELP), administered by the Department of SLS, is a noncredit, comprehensive, intensive ESL program for students who wish to improve their English language proficiency (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) for academic, business, or professional pursuits. Most students in the program are preparing to enter an American college or university, although many are studying English for other reasons. HELP also offers an intensive TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) preparation course to students who require that examination for college/university entrance. Admission to HELP is open to individuals aged 18 or older who have completed high school or its equivalent. There are four 10-week sessions each year beginning in January, April, July, and October. For an application packet and information, call or write to HELP.

SLS Courses