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Second Language Studies

College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature
Moore 570
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-9010
Fax: (808) 956-2802
Web: www.hawaii.edu/sls


*Graduate Faculty

*G. Crookes, PhD (Chair)—classroom teaching, classroom-centered research, materials and syllabus design
*G. Kasper, Dr. phil. (Graduate Chair)—language and social interaction, qualitative research
*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
*R. Day, PhD—teacher education, teaching of reading, vocabulary, materials development, literature
E. Gilliland, PhD—writing studies, adolescent literacy, teacher education, qualitative research methods, discourse analysis
*T. Grüter, PhD—morphosyntax and semantics, developmental pscholinguistics, language processing, 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
*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
N. Ziegler, PhD—second language acquisition, interaction, corrective feedback, task-based language teaching, synchronous computer mediated communication, Maritime English (English as a lingua franca, English for specific purposes in the commercial shipping industry)

PhD in SLS Faculty outside the SLS department

F. Bail, PhD—Human learning and development, instructional formats
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

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

M. González-Lloret, PhD—second language acquisition, technology and language instruction, Spanish linguistics, pragmatics
A. J. Schafer, PhD—sentence comprehension and production across languages (including Korean, Japanese, and Austronesian languages); sentence prosody; information structure; psycholinguistic approaches to language documentation and conservation

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

E. Hauser, PhD—conversation analysis
S. McKay, PhD—English as an international language, SL methods and materials, macro-sociolinguistics
H. T. Nguyen, PhD—interactional competence, classroom discourse, conversation analysis
J. Norris, PhD—language program evaluation
L. Ortega, PhD—second language acquisition
R. Schmidt, PhD—(Emeritus) second language acquisition

Degrees Offered: BA in second language studies, MA in second language studies, PhD in second language studies, Advanced Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies

The Academic Program

The SLS department's programs prepare students for professional and academic careers in second language and multilingual settings, including but not limited to language education. Through course work and independent research, students acquire a broad knowledge base and familiarity with a range of research approaches and an understanding of ethics and professionalism in second language studies.

Employment opportunities have expanded nationally and internationally to include various types of educational and occupational institutions. In addition to language education and administration at all levels, employment opportunities extend to such domains as 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 worldwide. Offerings comprise a wide range of general and specialized courses. SLS faculty members are well respected nationally and internationally through their research, publications, and leadership roles at national and international levels. The department has 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.

SLS faculty members (J. D. Brown, G. Kasper, and R. Schmidt) have served on the executive boards of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association. Department faculty are also past and present 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 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, see www.hawaii.edu/sls/ba/ and 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 an MA degree in second language studies, an Advanced Graduate Certificate in second language studies, and a PhD degree in second language studies. The MA and PhD degree programs are recognized Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, upon admission with a GPA of 3.50 or higher, to enroll at Hawai'i resident tuition rates. See the "Tuition, Fees, & Financial Aid" section of this Catalog for more information on WICHE programs.

Master’s Degree

The main goal of the Master of Arts degree program is to serve the needs of prospective and practicing teachers, administrators, and researchers in the area of second and foreign language studies. Attention is given to the areas of second and foreign language acquisition, applied psycholinguistics, second language use, second language research, bilingual education, curriculum development, and teacher education, among others.

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 and language learning. The core courses, which are primarily theoretical, are designed to provide an essential foundation on which the more practically oriented courses can build.

The MA in SLS does not result in teaching certification. Contact the College of Education for information regarding State of Hawai'i teacher certification.

Entry into the MA program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. The GRE is required for all MA in SLS applicants whose first language is English or who are exempt from taking the TOEFL or IELTS. Most applicants whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS.

Application materials are required for both the UH Manoa Office of Graduate Education and for the Department of Second Language Studies. For details about how to apply, see: www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/admissions/ma/.


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 MA.

Plan A (Thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 441, 600, 650, 660
  • One core seminar (3 credits): SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Five electives approved by the advisor (15 credits)
  • SLS 700 thesis research (6 credits)

Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 441, 600, 650, 660
  • One core seminar (3 credits): SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Seven electives approved by the advisor (21 credits)
  • 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 core seminar. Five areas of specialization are available:

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

For further information about these specializations and the MA program, see: www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/programs/masters/.

Advanced Graduate Certificate

The Advanced Graduate Certificate program in second language studies provides advanced training to those who already have a graduate degree (master's or 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 AGC application process, see: www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/admissions/agc/.

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. Transfer credits are not applicable toward graduate certificate requirements. However, up to six UH Manoa PBU credits may be applied. Students who complete the graduate 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 that 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 the supervision of the program's faculty.

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program in second language studies at UH Manoa was established in 1988. The graduate faculty of the PhD program comprises all members of the SLS faculty, as well as faculty members of the Departments of Anthropology, East Asian Languages and Literatures, and Linguistics.

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; interlanguage; processes of comprehension and production.
  3. Second language use—Studies of social functions of second and foreign languages; pidgins, creoles, and dialect variation; roles of social and geographical contexts; pragmatics; discourse analysis; cross-cultural and interethnic communication; sociopolitical factors; language policy and planning.
  4. Second language pedagogy—Research into learners' language needs (including immigrant needs); formulation of needs-based curriculum objectives and syllabi; task-based and content-based language teaching; computer-aided instruction; program administration; evaluation and language assessment; critical pedagogy.

The basic requirement for admission into the PhD program is the completion of an MA in second language studies, applied linguistics, or second or foreign language education. Applicants with graduate degrees in related disciplines such as anthropology, education, modern languages, linguistics, and psychology are also welcome.
Entry into the PhD program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. The GRE is required for all PhD program applicants. Most applicants whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. Additionally, those required to take the TOEFL or IELTS have the following minimum scores to work as a teaching graduate assistant (GA): 600 TOEFL PBT; 250 TOEFL CBT; 100 TOEFL iBT, with subtest scores 25 listening and 25 speaking; 7.0 IELTS.

Prospective PhD students are automatically considered for a graduate assistantship at the time of application. Each year, four years of guaranteed funding are offered to the four most qualified applicants to the PhD in SLS program, pending availability of funds.

Application materials are required for both the UH Manoa Office of Graduate Education and for the Department of Second Language Studies. For details about how to apply, go to: www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/admissions/phd/.


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 PhD students' 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 the following:

  • 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 further information about the PhD program, see: www.hawaii.edu/sls/sls/programs/doctorate/.

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 two or 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) graduate students who have received within the last five years a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree from an accredited/recognized college in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, or Ireland; (h) the student has an Associate of Arts degree from a community college within the UH System; (i) 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 Mânoa and where English is the primary language of instruction; or (j) 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 Manoa. 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 Manoa 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: manoa.hawaii.edu/eslhelp/wordpress/

The Hawai'i English Language Program (HELP), located in 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. HELP is the pathway into the UH system for students who need to sharpen their academic English skills before starting courses at UH Manoa or in another American college or university. HELP students may receive conditional admission to UH Manoa 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's four-level curriculum accepts students of all levels—from those with no English background to very advanced academic English, and every level in-between. Because of HELP's more than four decades of experience in delivering the best ESL instruction, every student can achieve success at HELP.

HELP is also a teacher training center and offers customized teacher training workshops as well as the globally recognized Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) program.

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 6-week summer programs in May and July.

See manoa.hawaii.edu/eslhelp/wordpress/ for more information.

SLS Courses