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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

*G. Crookes, PhD (Chair)—classroom teaching, classroom-centered research, materials and syllabus design
*R. Day, PhD (Graduate Chair)—teacher education, teaching of reading, vocabulary, materials development, literature
*R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—English syntax, second-language analysis, formal models of language acquisition
*J. D. Brown, PhD—language testing, research methods, curriculum design
*K. Davis, PhD—qualitative research methods, language policy and planning, literacy, bilingual education
E. Gilliland, PhD—writing studies, adolescent literacy, teacher education, qualitative research methods, discourse analysis
*T. Grüter, PhD—morphosyntax and semantics, developmental pyscholinguistics, language processing, and bilingualism
*C. Higgins, PhD—macro- and micro-sociolinguistics, qualitative research methods, discourse analysis, code-switching
*T. Hudson, PhD— language testing, reading, methods and materials, English for specific purposes, research methods
*G. Kasper, PhD—conversation analysis, discourse analysis, pragmatics, qualitative research methods, second language learning as discursive practice
*L. Onnis, PhD—statistical learning, enhancement of learning and training based on cognitive science findings, computational modeling and corpus-based analyses, monolingual and bilingual sentence processing, language evolution
*B. D. Schwartz, PhD—linguistic theory and second language acquisition, second language analysis, second language processing, child second language acquisition
*D. Zheng, PhD—cognition and instruction, second language technology and pedagogy, bilingual education, instructional media

PhD in SLS Faculty outside the SLS department

F. Bail, PhD—Human learning and development, instructional formats
A. Bayer, PhD—language and literacy in education
J. M. Bilmes, PhD—cognitive anthropology, human communication, decision-making, conversation analysis, Southeast Asia
H. Cook, PhD—Japanese sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, language socialization and pragmatics
K. Kanno, PhD—Japanese SLA, pedagogical grammar, language analysis
K. Kondo-Brown, PhD—heritage language learning, assessment, Japanese language learning
W. O'Grady, PhD—syntax, first and second language acquisition, Korean
K. Rehg, PhD—phonology, bilingual education, Micronesian linguistics
S. Zhang, PhD—research methodology, design and statistics, computer applications, Chinese-English translation and interpretation

Affiliate Faculty

E. Hauser, PhD—conversational analysis
S. McKay, PhD—English as an international language, SL methods and materials, macrosocio-linguistics
H. Nguyen, PhD—interactional competence, classroom discourse, conversational analysis

Degrees Offered: BA in second language studies, MA in second language studies, PhD in second language studies ­(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 study of second- and foreign-language learning and teaching. The department's programs train students for professional careers in second- and foreign-language education, which includes teaching, teacher training, materials preparation, curriculum and syllabus design, language assessment, and research. Through course work and independent research, students acquire a broad knowledge base of and familiarity with conducting research, as well as a sense of professionalism in second-language studies.

Employment opportunities in this field have expanded rapidly, both nationally and internationally, in various types of educational and occupational institutions (e.g., elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels; publishing; test development for international agencies; and language training programs for businesses).

The department, whose MA program dates back to 1961, is regarded as one of the most prestigious second language programs in the world. It includes a wide range of general and specialized courses. It has the largest faculty with specializations 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 stimulates 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, G. Kasper, L. Ortega, and R. Schmidt) have served on the executive boards of these organizations. Department faculty are also past and present editors of the international journals Applied Linguistics (G. Kasper), Language Learning (L. Ortega), 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 Bachelor of Arts degree program in second language studies provides students with a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of issues related to how second and foreign languages are learned, taught, and used in local and global contexts. This program, in accord with the values of SLS graduate degree programs, takes the broad view that plurilingual and pluricultural societies have greater success at communication in and across languages, which enables mutual understanding and appreciation, conflict resolution, and negotiation of values.

The program addresses theory, research, and practice, and helps prepare students to become second language specialists who understand the nature of second language learning and use in diverse circumstances, and are able to act upon related challenges that emerge in a variety of settings. The BA in SLS also serves as an excellent preparation for entry into a variety of language-related graduate programs.


Students must complete 33 credit hours of upper division courses, including:

  • 24 credit hours of required courses: SLS 302, 303, 380, 430, 441, 480(alpha), 485, and 490
  • 9 credit hours of elective courses: 300-499 courses from SLS, or 300-499 courses from other departments (as approved by an SLS advisor)

For more information about the BA degree in SLS, contact the department's undergraduate coordinator. Newly declared majors should make appointments with the SLS coordinator as soon as possible.

Graduate Study

The department offers the MA degree in second language studies, the Advanced Graduate Certificate in second language studies, and the PhD degree in second language studies.

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 second and foreign 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 SLS does not result in teaching certification. Contact the College of Education for more information regarding State of Hawai'i teacher certification.

Entry into the MA program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. The GRE General Test is required of all native English speakers. Students whose native language is not English are required to have a minimum internet (iBT) TOEFL score of 100 (250 computer-based CBT or 600 paper PBT), with a score of 105 iBT (260 CBT or 620 PBT) preferred, or a minimal IELTS band of 7.0, with 7.5 preferred.

Three letters of recommendation are also required; forms are available at www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/.
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.

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 36 credit hour MA requirement.

Plan A (Thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 441, 600, 650, 660
  • One graduate seminar: SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Five electives (15 credits) approved by the advisor
  • SLS 700 Thesis Research (6 credits)

Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 441, 600, 650, 660
  • One graduate seminar: SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Seven electives (21 credits) approved by the advisor
  • Submission of an acceptable scholarly paper

Plan C Requirements

Plan C is an individually planned program for established language scholars who wish to purse an additional degree. For admission requirements, contact the graduate chair.


As an option, the 36 credit MA program allows students to concentrate in a particular area of specialization. Each specialization requires a distinct selection of four courses from among various electives, as well as a related seminar. Five areas of specialization are available:

  • Critical second language studies
  • Language assessment, measurement, and program evaluatio
  • Language teaching ("English" can be designated)
  • Language and social interaction
  • Second language acquisition

For further information about these specializations, see www.hawaii.edu/sls/, link to "Programs," then link to "M.A. in SLS."

Additional information concerning the MA program and its requirements is contained on the link of the website above. Some of the topics included are financial aid, transfer of credit, and requirements such as the scholarly paper.

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. 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 Manoa before entering the certificate program. Graduate students enrolled in other programs at UH Manoa are permitted to apply for the certificate while they concurrently complete another graduate degree. For specific information and guidelines on the application process, see www.hawaii.edu/sls/, link to "Programs," then link to "Advanced Graduate Certificate in SLS".

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 obtain knowledge and skills in second language studies with possibilities including second language analysis, learning, pedagogy, and use, in utilization of research findings, and application of research methods.

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

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program in second language studies (SLS) is offered by the Department of Second Language Studies. The graduate faculty of the program is interdisciplinary—drawn not only from the SLS department but also from faculty in the Departments of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Educational Psychology, Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, and Linguistics. The SLS PhD is a WICHE approved program.

The courses in the program are organ­ized into four areas of specialization:

  1. Second language analysis—Structural analysis of learners' language development; comparison of native and nonnative languages; second-language varieties; differences arising from social and geographical contexts; phonological, grammatical, and discoursal properties; typological factors; putative universals.
  2. Second language learning—Studies of the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors in the language-learning process; the role of universals; interlanguages; the processes of comprehension and production.
  3. Second language use—Studies of the social functions of second and foreign languages; pidgins, creoles, and dialect variation; roles of social and geographical contexts; pragmatics; discourse analysis; cross-cultural and inter-ethnic communication; sociopolitical factors.
  4. Second language pedagogy—Research into language-learner needs (including immigrant needs); formulation of needs-based curriculum objectives and syllabi; computer-aided instruction; program administration; evaluation and language assessment.

The basic requirement for admission into the PhD program is the completion of an MA in ESL or SLS, applied linguistics, or second- or foreign-language education. Applicants with graduate degrees in such related disciplines as anthropology, education, English, modern languages, linguistics, and psychology are also welcome. In addition to the admission requirements of the Graduate Division, the SLS PhD program requires (a) letters of recommendation (three of which should be from academic sources); (b) copies of an MA thesis or scholarly paper, publication, or other research; (c) a statement of research interests; (d) a brief description of relevant professional experience and language skills; and (e) GRE General Test scores (for both native and nonnative speakers of English). Applicants whose native language is not English are required to have a minimum internet (iBT) TOEFL score of 100 (250 computer-based CBT or 600 paper PBT), with a score of 105 iBT (260 CBT or 620 PBT) preferred, or a minimal IELTS band of 7.0, with 7.5 preferred.
Entry into the PhD program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. Candidates are encouraged to apply early. There are various sources of financial aid. The program strives to provide financial support for the best qualified doctoral students by means of research and teaching assistantships. For additional information, go to www.hawaii.edu/sls/, then link to "Doctorate in SLS."


Students work closely with their advisors and doctoral committees in defining their individualized programs. In order to establish a common core of expertise among students, specific courses are designated according to the background of each student. The basic preparation expected as part of their MA training is at least one graduate level course in each of the four areas of specialization. Beyond basic preparation, each doctoral student's program must include a minimum of two graduate level courses in three of the four areas of specialization and a minimum of two graduate level courses in research methods. At least two seminars (700 level) are required.

Doctoral candidates must pass a comprehensive examination before the dissertation and a final oral examination defending the dissertation.

Students must also document and reflect on substantial, diverse learning experiences in two languages other than their first language. This requirement is fulfilled by submitting a 3- to 5-page reflective essay during the first two years of study and before advancement to candidacy. Examples of substantial and diverse language learning experience include:

  • Attaining L2 competence for functioning successfully in an L2 academic context
  • Completing a primary, secondary, or higher education degree in a language other than the first language
  • Growing up with two or more languages
  • Teaching a language (or in a language) other than the first language
  • Engaging in research that involves the analysis of data in another language

For details on this requirement and other information on the PhD program, see the SLS website.

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
Email: 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 to facilitate their academic studies at UH Manoa. The ELI program is only for students who have been admitted to UH Manoa.

All potential ELI students admitted to UH Manoa are referred to ELI to determine if they must take the ELI placement test before registering for UH Manoa courses. If a student does not fulfill this obligation, 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 Exexmptions

Students are exempt from taking the ELI placement test if they meet any of the following conditions: (a) the student is a native speaker of English; (b) the student has received a score of 100 or better on the internet-based TOEFL, a score of 250 or better on the computer-based TOEFL, or a score of 600 or better on the paper-based TOEFL; (c) the student has received a score of 7.0 or better on the IELTS; (d) the student has received a score of 460 or better on the verbal section of the GRE; (e) the student has received a score of 540 or better on the verbal section of the SAT if taken before March 2005, or a score of 540 or better on the critical reading section if taken in March 2005 or thereafter; (f) the student has received a combined score of 48 on the reading and English sections of the ACT and neither subscore (reading or English sections) is lower than 21; (g) the student has an Associate of Arts degree from a community college within the UH System; (h) the student has obtained the equivalent of 60 transferable semester credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better, all earned in classroom settings at regionally accredited colleges or universities in the U.S., or from colleges or universities whose academic standing is recognized by UH Manoa and where English is the primary language of instruction; or (i) 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 UH Manoa. An exemption on the basis of one of these criteria may be automatically granted by UH Manoa, 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 potential ELI students who have been admitted to UH Manoa 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 Director for further information. All ELI courses must be completed within the first year of study at UH Mânoa. Students who do not complete ELI course work 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 Mânoa 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
Email: eslhelp@hawaii.edu
Web: www.hawaii.edu/eslhelp

The Hawai'i English Language Program (HELP), administered by the Department of SLS, is a noncredit intensive academic English skills program for students who wish to improve their English language proficiency for academic, business, or professional pursuits. Most students in the program are preparing to enter UH Mânoa or another American college or university. HELP students may receive Conditional Admission to UH Mânoa without a TOEFL score by completing two terms at the highest level of HELP, after which they may take the ELI placement exam to see if further English preparation is needed. HELP offers a skills-focused content-based curriculum to prepare students for success in academic study in addition to TOEFL preparation courses. Admission to HELP is open to individuals 17 or older who have completed high school or its equivalent. There are four 8-week sessions each year beginning in January, March, August, and October. HELP also offers 4-week summer programs in May, June, and July. For an application packet and information, go to www.hawaii.edu/eslhelp.

SLS Courses