ESL Credit Courses FAQ

Can I complete my undergraduate English requirement by taking these courses?

Yes. As a non-native speaker of English, you may complete the English portion of your General Education Requirements (GER) for your bachelor’s degree by taking ESL writing courses instead of the writing courses designed for native speakers of English.

If you take ESL 118 for credit, you will not need to take English 100 or 101. You will need to take English 102, but you may choose to take a section of English 102 reserved for students who grew up using a language other than English at home.

What is the ESL-PIC test?

The English as a Second Language-Placement in Composition (ESL-PIC) test is the placement test for the ESL writing courses for credit. (It is not required for ESL 120, ESL 135, ESL 145, ESL 420, and ESL 435.) The ESL-PIC test is not the same as the English Placement Test (EPT), which is the placement test for writing courses designed for native speakers of English. The ESL-PIC test takes about 75 minutes and asks you to write an essay on a specific topic, such as “Do you think it is better to eat at home or at a restaurant?” If you have already taken the EPT, you may also take the ESL-PIC test. You may take the ESL-PIC test more than once. There is no fee for taking the ESL-PIC test. Schedule a time to take the ESL-PIC test at the Testing Center (Mellencamp B28, 414-229-4689).

How are the ESL writing courses different from the writing courses for native speakers of English?

The ESL writing courses are designed to meet the specific language needs of people who grew up using a language other than English at home. The specially-trained ESL writing teachers provide one-on-one instruction for non-native speakers of English. In the ESL writing courses, you will learn the same kinds of college writing skills that native speakers of English learn in their college writing courses, but you will get additional English language instruction that is not available in the writing courses designed for native speakers of English. Non-native speakers of English often have difficulty passing the English courses designed for native speakers of English because they need instruction on specific language problems.

You need to take the ESL-PIC test, even if you have already taken the EPT, to see which ESL writing course is right for you.

I’ve lived here a long time and speak English very well although my first home language was not English. Should I still take the ESL-PIC test?

Yes. Taking the ESL-PIC test will give you more information to help you decide which writing course sequence is better for you. Unless the EPT places you in English 102 or higher, you will benefit by taking ESL writing courses instead of the writing courses designed for native speakers of English.

I already took the TOEFL or IELTS. Do I still need to take the ESL-PIC test?

Yes. TOEFL and IELTS measure your English proficiency to see if you are ready to study at the university level. These are pre-admission tests. The ESL-PIC test is intended for people who have already been admitted to UWM for university studies at the undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) level. The ESL-PIC test is a placement test to see which ESL writing course you should take to complete your GER English requirement for a bachelor’s degree at UWM. There is no fee for taking the ESL-PIC test.

I am a graduate student. May I take an ESL writing course?

Yes. Graduate students are welcome to take ESL writing courses. ESL 420 and ESL 435 are specially designed courses for graduate students who are not native speakers of English.

I am not a UWM student, but I would like to take an ESL writing course. May I do that?

Yes, but you will need to apply and be accepted as a “special” student at UWM. At UWM, “special” students are people who qualify for university admission but are not currently working on a degree at UWM. For more information and to apply to take one or more classes at UWM, visit Non-degree Student Information.

The cost of taking an ESL writing course will depend on how many credits you take and whether UWM considers you a resident of Wisconsin. For information about tuition and for UWM classes, visit Tuition and Fees and look for the current semester; then look for tuition and fees for undergraduates for on-campus courses (not “audit”).

You may take ESL writing courses on a credit/no-credit basis so that the grade does not count in your Grade Point Average (GPA) or appear on your transcript.

I would like to audit an ESL Writing course. What should I do?

We do not allow auditors in ESL writing courses.