Tompkins Cortland Community College


Intensive English Program


Tompkins Cortland's Intensive English Program is designed to provide intensive core skills development in English. Students will begin by refreshing their understanding of the essentials. From there, they’ll be challenged to push towards the next level. A key objective for our instructors is to create a learning environment that will build confidence in the areas of Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing and Grammar. The program is ideal for people who will begin to practice English after a long time or who must resume the process of studying English independently or in a classroom setting. Students are placed in one of three proficiency levels, based on a pre-registration English test and an on-site speaking test.  Classes are non-credit, non-graded and culminate in a one-on-one evaluation and feedback-session with instructors. In addition to 18 hours/week of classes, a variety of sessions and workshops related to U.S. culture, informal English, and professional development will be offered both on and off-campus. Extra-curricular evening and weekend activities that highlight the attractions of the Finger Lakes Region are a much-loved feature of the program as well.   A certificate of completion will be given to those who successfully finish the program. 

Who Should Attend Tompkins Cortland's Intensive English Program

  • Adult learners who need to improve their English to be more successful in an academic and/or a professional setting
  • University faculty and administrators who need to interact globally with the English speaking academic world, either by teaching in English, publishing scholarly research or presenting at conferences
  • People who wish to understand how to network and collaborate with those who share professional interests in North America
  • People who will teach English and need a refresher and to increase cultural competence
  • Those who will work with North Americans
  • People who plan to attend college or university in the United States
  • Adults who can benefit personally or professionally from a better understanding of U.S. culture and its people

Program Structure

The program is offered in two distinct four-week modules, Module 1, which is optionally followed by Module 2. All students arrive and begin Module 1 together. Those wishing for a longer, eight-week program may also complete Module 2, which is a continuation of Module 1. Module 2 builds upon what was previously covered and cannot be taken independently of Module 1. Students who complete both Modules will have the best opportunity to strengthen their skills and have a deeper understanding of the topics and skills introduced in Module 1.

Weekly Schedule of Classes

Class time







Writing, Reading, Grammar

Writing, Reading,

Writing, Reading,

Writing, Reading,

Cultural and Professional
Development Sessions (Time, to be determined.)


Speaking & Listening

Speaking & Listening

Speaking & Listening

Speaking & Listening

3:15-4:15 pm



Conversation & Everyday English (optional)


Course Descriptions

Academic Writing, Reading, Grammar Course

Course overview

This course focuses on strengthening academic writing, reading, editing, and revising skills along with expanding students’ knowledge of grammar structures and vocabulary needed for making their writing more effective. Through spontaneous and planned writing tasks, peer and individual editing activities, and class discussion, students will become familiar with both the academic writing process and the key features of academic style.

Course objectives

Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate the steps in the writing process, including planning, drafting, editing, and revising
  • become familiar with different types of and features of academic writing
  • analyze data and ideas of others and incorporate them appropriately in their own writing using appropriate citation
  • edit academic writing more confidently and efficiently
  • develop strategies for reading academic texts
  • apply Standard English rules through editing
  • expand academic vocabulary
  • practice free-writing in class
  • become familiar with aspects of American literature

Academic Speaking and Listening Course

Course description
This course develops non-native English speakers’ spoken English by focusing on conversation skills, academic language and presentation skills, listening strategies, and pronunciation. The instruction in this class will be a mix of lecture; discussion; small group, peer, and individual work, role-play, and audio-visual materials.

Course objectives

  • Students will learn and practice English discourse through structured dialogues and improvised role-plays.
  • Students will develop their academic skills in English by preparing and carrying out oral presentations on a variety of topics.
  • Students will review and practice aspects of English pronunciation, including intonation, rhythm, and stress.

Conversation and Everyday English Course

Course Description

This course develops abilities in pronunciation and allows students to analyze and practice real-world, informal language functions. U.S. slang, idioms of American English, “real” pronunciation and functional, day-to-day English usage, which will flow naturally into discussion of various aspects of U.S. history, customs and culture.

Not just ESL! Cultural and Professional Development Sessions


A series of interactive discussions, talks and presentations on many aspects of U.S. culture, practices and customs designed to familiarize those who plan to work or collaborate with Americans in a professional or academic setting. Examples of past topics include the following:

  • U.S. Culture 101
  • Panel Discussion with Local Educators
  • Flipping the Classroom
  • U.S. Government Basics – From National to Grass Roots
  • The Collaborative Classroom
  • How to form a professional network of colleagues in the U.S.A.
  • How to successfully research in a U.S. library
  • Panel Discussion with Local Environmentalists
  • Open Educational Resources

Extra-Curricular Activities and Excursions

The program offers opportunities to explore the region and become more familiar with the way of life in the U.S. outside of the classroom. Some examples of possible activities include: participation in a scavenger hunt in Ithaca, attending a local outdoor concert, seeing a play, spending a day hiking or swimming at one of the many nearby state parks, visiting Niagara Falls, going bowling, visiting a local farm or winery to experience where local products are grown or made, exploring one of the area’s colleges or universities. While most of these activities are free, others are subject to the purchase of a ticket and may have limited availability.

How to Apply

If you’re coming from a college or university which is currently in partnership with Tompkins Cortland, please check with your school’s international initiatives office for instructions and information. If you are not a student or employee of a Tompkins Cortland partner, contact Melinda Slawson at for application instructions and a timeline.

Program Fee and Additional Costs

Tompkins Cortland Partner Rate (for people affiliated with one of the College's partner institutions)

Module 1 only (four week program): $2803
Modules 1 and 2 (eight week program): $5606

Non-Partner Rate

Module 1 only (four week program): $3200
Modules 1 and 2 (eight week program): $6400

Additional Costs to Consider

  • Visa-related expenses (SEVIS fee, travel to US Embassy, time off work to obtain visa)
  • Roundtrip transportation to Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York
  • Some instructional supplies (pens, notebook, printing, copies)
  • Meals not covered by meal plan, which provides $10/day or around one meal per day
  • Some apartment supplies: twin extra long sheets, a blanket, towels, a pillow, fan and other items as needed
  • Local transportation or bus fare
  • Mobile phone, if desired
  • Optional excursions arranged by the College, usually with a cost of $10-$30
  • Entertainment and dining out, if needed
  • Shopping and souvenirs
  • Sight-seeing or travel while in the U.S. (Summer car rental and lodging rates are among the most expensive of the year.)

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Earn your Keuka College degree at Tompkins Cortland

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