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English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

ESL Program, also known as Excellence in Culture and English Language Study (EXCELS) Program at West Virginia State University

For (high school, college undergraduate and graduate students,this ESL Program:
  • provides the skills and training you need to master the English language and achieve academic success
  • prepares you for everyday communication
  • supports your cultural experience of living and learning in the United States

Why Choose EXCELS at WVSU?

West Virginia State University is a student-centered liberal arts and research institution of higher learning.  Academic and student life experiences at WVSU prepare our students for a successful career and life. We are passionate about our students, providing individual attention and unique learning opportunities while maintaining affordability.
  • 23 undergraduate programs including:
    • Business/Management
    • Computer Science
    • Pre-Medical
    • Seamless pathway to Engineering and Pharmacy
  • 5 graduate degrees including:
    • Biotechnology
  • 17-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio

Excellence in Culture and English Language Study at WVSU provides students with: 
  • Affordable, quality English education in a safe, friendly campus environment
  • Explore campus life and WVSU degree opportunities
  • West Virginia is known for its low crime rate, friendly people and close proximity to major metropolitan areas in the Eastern United States
  • WVSU boasts a diverse student body that includes an international student population
  • Small class sizes offer personalized attention from dedicated faculty
  • Program enhances your language skills including reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary while introducing you to American history and culture
  • Students may complete the EXCELS program in as little as one year
  • Students receive a certificate of program completion after successful completion of the EXCELS program
  • After students complete their EXCELS program study, EXCELS’ staff assist students in applying for a WVSU degree program
The ESL Program, known as Excellence in Culture and English Language Studey (EXCELS), started in January 2015.  Our program goal is to assist learners whose native/first language is not English to imporove both linguistic proficiency and cultural competence. 

2015-2016 Goals and Objectives
  • Continuing providing quality English courses to ESL students
  • ESL curriculum revision
  • teaching training and tutoring training
  • placement test  and exit assessment
  • professional development
  • Recruiting international students from other countries
  • Assisting ESL students becoming degree-seeking students at WVSU
Application Requirements
  • EXCELS program application
  • Certified copy of secondary school records
  • Enrollment in EXCELS requires a copy of the student's transcript from the highest school completed
Application Deadlines
  • Fall: July 1
  • Spring: November 15
  • Summer: April 15
Additional requirements for students admitted to the EXCELS program who wish to enroll:
  • Proof of financial resources
  • Passport
  • Health statement with a physician’s signature and verification of inoculation for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
  • A completed I-20 form must be presented to your country’s nearest United States Embassy to apply for and secure an F-1 student visa


Costs may vary and are tentative below. Tuition/fees for 2017-2018 will be confirmed by the Board of Governors in the coming months. Additional fees, such as an application fee, student identification card and campus parking may apply.

EXCELS Per Semester Costs 

Total (14 week/12 week programs)               $12,038 (estimate, living on-campus)
(14 week/12 week programs)               $6,299 (estimate, living off-campus)
Summer Intensive Program (4 Weeks)         $3,665 (all inclusive)

*Students enrolled in EXCELS are required to carry personal insurance. Insurance offered by the university is built in to the above amounts.


Preparing for arrival

This checklist provides you with important information. For an electronic version, click here.


WVSU is pleased that you selected our institution as your educational destination.  Arriving to a new country, even for a few weeks, brings a lot of exciting opportunities. 
‚ÄčTransportation from the Charleston, WV Airport (CRW) will be provided.
When you arrive to campus, you will need to check in – obtain information about your residence hall room, etc. Over the next couple of days you will attend orientation programs and meetings and take a placement test, which will be helpful to confirm the most appropriate level of English study. Orientation will assist you in getting acclimated to your new surroundings.


We do not recommend that you carry large sums of money when you come to the United States. You should however carry some money in United States dollars for immediate use. You may want to exchange your country’s currency to dollars at your bank or inside your country’s airport. If you plan to use a debit or credit card make sure to consult with your bank ahead of time to see if your card must be enabled to be used out of your country so it does not get blocked when you try to use it in the US.


It is recommended that all students enrolling at WVSU have proof of the following immunizations:
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR).
Bring your medical records and information (with English translation) especially if you have any long-term health problems; prescription medication and information; and information about any health insurance policy by which you are covered. (You will be covered by a University provided policy while staying on the campus of West Virginia State University). Don’t forget your eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Access to medical care will be provided if needed during your time with us.

What to Bring (Or Not Bring)

Deciding what to pack can be challenging. Check the luggage restrictions for your airline as overweight luggage can be costly. We will take you shopping shortly after your arrival so that you can purchase items you want or need.
Standard U.S. voltage is 120V/60Hz.
Pack clothes appropriate for the Charleston climate. September temperatures are between 57° and 78°F (13°C and 26°C).  Typically, we receive about 3” of rain during the month of September.
The United States is a casual country and students usually dress casually for classes and social events.
Hand carry (or have in your carry-on bag) the following documents:
  • Your passport
  • SEVIS form DS2019 (if you are a J student) or form I-20 (if you are an F student) and any previous DS2019s or I-20s
  • Evidence of your financial resources
  • Evidence of your student or exchange visitor status, such as your WVSU letter of admission 
  • Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee 
  • WVSU contact information:
Office of International Affairs
Phone (304) 766-3063
  • Your address in WV:
West Virginia State University
P.O. Box 1001
Institute, West Virginia 25112
  • Bring a translation dictionary 

Do not pack fresh fruit, produce, meat, prepared food, or spices (Bureau of Customs and Border Protection will not allow you to bring these items into the United States).

Most important, be sure to bring your patience and a good sense of humor. These will be invaluable resources as you deal with the challenges of adjusting to a new country and culture.

Residential Life for EXCELS Students

EXCELS students reside on campus with fellow WVSU students providing another opportunity to experience American life in an informal, friendly and safe environment.

WVSU maintains two residence halls housing approximately 350 students each semester.  

Based upon availability, you may choose to reside with a host family in the Charleston area.

Students enrolled in EXCELS receive special services to meet their specific needs:
  • Orientation program
  • Immigration advisement and support
  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Coversational Partnership Program helping ESL students practice spoken English after classes
  • Automatic inclusion in International Student Association
  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Airport transportation
  • Free English tutoring twice a week
  • Conversational partnership program helps each student practice spoken English after class

Academic Calendar

Students enter the EXCELS program as either beginner, intermediate or advanced based upon their TOEFL score. A typical schedule includes five classes per day, four days a week with classes ending early on Fridays to encourage social engagement. Courses run in seven week intervals.  
  • Fall Semester (14 weeks) Late August to early December
  • Spring Semester (14 weeks)Early January to early May
  • Summer Semester (12 weeks)Late May to mid-August
  • Summer Intensive Program (4 weeks) June and July  
  • Spring Intensive Program (4 weeks) March and April  

EXCELS Program Schedule

The EXCELS program enhances language skills including reading, writing, speaking, listening , grammar and vocabulary while introducing enrolled students to American history and culture.  In one year, should be able to progress through the three-level core program. Goals for each course taught in the program are listed below.

Beginning Level

Level 1 Grammar and Writing:
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • produce basic affirmative and negative sentences and questions in the simple past, present and future tenses;
  • assemble these into short, unified paragraphs;
  • recognize elements of the format of a basic paragraph (capitalization, punctuation, indentation, etc.) recognize and use a wider variety of grammatical structures such as modals, noun phrases, comparatives and the present perfect and past progressive tenses;
  • identify certain parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, preposition);
  • recognize a narrow range of prefixes and suffixes; and
  • produce short, simple paragraphs about a variety of topics.
Level 1 Reading and Vocabulary:
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • increase vocabulary to the 800-word level;
  • read passages based on a 800-1,500 word vocabulary and answer objective questions about the content of the passages;
  • identify the main idea of such passages;
  • briefly discuss these passages;
  • engage in reading for pleasure in English; and
  • increase both active and passive vocabulary beyond the 1,500-word level.
Level 1 Listening and Speaking:       
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • use appropriate English for difficult survival situations;
  • recognize and make use of basic register differences;
  • produce basic narratives;
  • understand and respond to questions, conversations and narratives based on a limited range of functions; and
  • increase vocabulary in a variety of content areas.
Intermediate Level

Level 2 Grammar and Writing:

By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • recognize and use grammatical structures such as progressive and perfect tenses, basic passive forms and basic adverb and adjective clauses;
  • identify the concept of rhetorical types (narrative, descriptive and expository writing);
  • write unified and coherent paragraphs on a variety of topics;
  • summarize paragraphs in one sentence;
  • show control over format (indentation, margins, punctuation and capitalization, spelling and word divisions).
  • use effectively all verb tenses as well as gerunds, infinitives and adverbial and adjectival clauses;
  • recognize and avoid certain errors in writing (run-ons, sentence fragments and comma splices);
  • produce multi-paragraph essays and one-paragraph summaries;
  • incorporate ideas from class discussions into their writing.
Level 2 Reading and Vocabulary:
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • read passages based on a 1,500-2,500 word vocabulary;
  • make use of higher-level reading skills such as skimming and scanning, finding main ideas, summarizing and understanding meaning of individual words from context;
  • recognize a wider variety of prefixes and suffixes;
  • make use of an English-English dictionary;
  • begin to work on increasing reading speed;
  • read lengthy paragraphs for main ideas, supporting details, specific factual information and inferences;
  • read a simplified novel and produce a book report, chapter summaries, descriptions of characters, etc.; and
  • improve reading speed while recalling information, skimming for main idea and scanning for specific details.
Level 2 Listening and Speaking:
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • participate in discussions on selected topics;
  • monitor their own speech and that of others for accuracy;
  • produce accurately most vowel and consonant sounds, clusters and stress and intonation patterns;
  • engage in out-of-class activities to help augment their vocabulary and communicative ability;
  • take part in tape-recording and videotaping of class discussions and skits for later student evaluation;
  • improve their confidence in speaking in class before an audience; and
  • learn about several cultural topics of relevance to their presence in the U.S.
Advanced Level

Level 3 Reading and Writing: 

By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • write a well-organized essay using the cause-and-effect rhetorical pattern;
  • produce clear thesis statements for their essays;
  • recognize the value of outlining prior to writing;
  • read both intensively for information and extensively for enjoyment in unabridged material;
  • write in a well-organized and interesting way, incorporating quoted material, paraphrases and summaries into their writing;
  • add to their repertoire of rhetorical patterns that of cause and effect;
  • critique an article in terms of its validity, information and persuasiveness;
  • read articles outside of class and summarize them clearly; and
  • produce a term paper to demonstrate mastery of the above.
Level 3 Grammar:
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • practice both orally and in writing the structures contained in a broad overview of the verb, modal, clause and article systems of English;
  • become fairly proficient in self-editing;
  • demonstrate increased sophistication in writing thanks to a mastery of many complex structures as detailed in the curriculum; and
  • discuss and correct any grammar problem that occurs in their speech or writing, or that may be evident to the core teachers.
Level 3 Listening and Speaking: 
By the end of the session, students will be able to:
  • explore in-depth several significant topics as detailed in the curriculum, and speak proficiently and confidently before an audience on these topics;
  • recognize and use most register types;
  • listen to and understand most television programs;
  • listen to and take notes on simulated academic lectures;
  • explore and correct and pronunciation, grammar, or register errors in their own speech;
  • understand unhesitatingly native speakers in an informal context;
  • understand guest lectures and summarize their talks;
  • express fluently their own thoughts and opinions on a wide range of topics of contemporary interest; and
  • convincingly express themselves in a skit, courtroom or debate setting, or visit to an American elementary classroom.

Beautiful Campus and Community

Our campus location offers many opportunities for you to learn and explore West Virginia while remaining within a day’s drive to many major cities in the United States.

We are located in Institute, just eight miles from Charleston, the capital of West Virginia.

WVSU's beautiful campus was honored with the "Tree Campus U.S.A." designation by the Arbor Day Foundation for effective campus forest management and conservation goals. Nestled among the hills, rivers and streams of West Virginia, local communities offer students an engaging social environment including:
  • Rich, diverse art and entertainment scenes, including the internationally acclaimed “Mountain Stage” live radio program
  • Bustling shopping and dining
  • Fairs and festivals in downtown Charleston and surrounding areas
  • Beautiful rivers and streams are great for fishing and rafting
  • Mountain hiking and bicycle riding
  • Skiing and snowboarding in the winter months
  • WVSU is located approximately 6 hours from Washington D.C.; 4 hours from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and 3 hours from Cincinnati, Ohio

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