Intensive English Language Program Curriculum | Salem State University Skip to main content

ENGAGE Curriculum

We design English language learning to meet real world demands!

The Intensive English Language Program teaches general and academic English and is designed for individuals who want to improve their English for personal, academic, or professional reasons.

Our curriculum and assessments have been strategically aligned to the Global Scale of English (GSE), the worlds' first truly global English language standard.

The GSE allows us to help students design an accelerated pathway toward English proficiency for university study and career advancement by assessing their levels and identifying their specific language needs so that we can create a personal learning plan and track their progress.

Our Teaching Approach

We believe learning is a social and cultural process that requires:


  • Knowing our learners’ backgrounds, interests, and curiosities so that we can make our lessons relevant and easy to understand through real-world connections.
  • Contextualizing and integrating language skills so learners can practice listening, speaking, reading and writing together rather than in isolation.
  • Raising cultural awareness and facilitating meaningful classroom interaction that encourages learners to initiate topics and talk, not just react and respond.
  • Having students work with others to theorize, pursue common goals, work on projects, and create presentations of new knowledge, ideas, and understandings
  • Fostering language awareness by focusing attention on specific patterns and functional properties of English and activating learner intuition so that they can infer and internalize underlying rules governing grammatical usage and communicative use.
  • Helping learners learn how to learn by equipping them with strategies to reflect on their developing skills and knowledge, identify their needs, and monitor their progress.

Typical Class Activities

  • Listening to lectures, TV, radio, podcasts, and movies
  • Participating in pair and small group discussions
  • Making and giving oral presentations
  • Collaborating on group projects
  • Interviewing and role-playing
  • Watching and making short videos
  • Reading newspapers, magazines and journals, textbooks, and literature
  • Preparing for university through note-taking, study skills, research and library skills
  • Participating in service projects for the local community
  • Going on field trips to museums and other places of cultural and historical interest
  • Compiling a writing portfolio of personal reflections, narratives, essays, research papers, and emails

In all levels, students have homework to help build on skills they are working on in class to enrich their learning experience and keep them on track to meet their target language goals.

Levels (Starter to Advanced)


Level Name


CEFR Equivalent

Example Level Descriptors



GSE 10-19


  • Can recognize cardinal numbers up to 10.
  • Can recognize simple formal greetings.
  • Can greet people using few basic fixed expressions.
  • Can write the letters of the alphabet in upper and lower case.



GSE 20-28


  • Can understand short written notices, signs and instructions with visual support.
  • Can understand a phone number from a recorded message.
  • Can ask for a drink or food in a limited way.
  • Can write short, simple notes, emails and postings to friends.



GSE 29-35


  • Can understand simple questions in surveys on familiar topics.
  • Can recognize phrases and content words related to basic personal and family information.
  • Can make and accept a simple apology.
  • Can write simple sentences about personal skills.



GSE 36-42


  • Can understand simple factual titles and headlines relating to common events.
  • Can generally identify the topic of discussion around them when conducted slowly and clearly.
  • Can ask and talk about very basic symptoms and ailments (e.g. cold, flu).
  • Can write a description of a simple everyday process (e.g. a recipe).



GSE 43-48


  • Can follow the main points in a simple audio recording aimed at a general audience
  • Can skim a simple text to identify key concepts
  • Can ask basic questions in a simple academic discussion
  • Can use simple headings to organize written work


Upper Intermediate

GSE 49-58


  • Can follow the main points in a panel discussion aimed at a general audience
  • Can  understand numerical values in graphs and charts in a simple academic text
  • Can paraphrase information taken from several simple academic texts
  • Can write a conclusion to a simple academic essay



GSE 59-67+

B2 to B2+

  • Can recognize emphasis through intonation and stress.
  • Can recognize contrasting ideas in a linguistically complex academic text when signaled by discourse markers.
  • Can ask questions about abstract or complex topics outside their field of specialization.
  • Can keep an effective and detailed research record for a report.


Please note: Levels may be combined at times depending on student enrollment and placement.


Subject Areas

Note: One clock hour is equivalent to 50 minutes of instruction and 10 minutes of break.

Core Integrated Language (7-14 Clock Hours per Week)

Develop your critical thinking, listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar skills through an integrated approach that engages you with a broad range of topics connected to university subjects, work-place situations, and daily life encounters.

  • Integrated Listening and Speaking (Starter-Advanced Levels)
  • Integrated Reading and Writing (Starter-Advanced Levels)

Academic Exploration and Civic Engagement (4-8 Clock Hours per Week)

Get a taste of future academic topics and career areas. Apply your language abilities and creativity through a variety of elective courses that interest you.

  • Service Learning
  • All around the USA: Culture, History, and Geography
  • Citizen Journalism and Digital Storytelling
  • English for Hospitality Professionals
  • English for Business Professionals
  • English for Healthcare Professionals
  • English for Science and Technology
  • Discover Salem: English for Tourism
  • American Culture through Art and Literature
  • American Culture through Movies and Music
  • American Culture through Sports

Skill Boosters (2-4 Clock Hours per Week)

Do you need a little extra practice in a single skill area? Take charge of your language acquisition and strengthen your weaker skills through a personalized approach that teaches you learning strategies for specific skills.

  • American Pronunciation and Spelling
  • Visual Vocabulary for Everyday Life
  • Let’s Talk: Strategies for Fluent Conversation
  • Academic Vocabulary for University Success
  • Grammar Power
  • Reading Power

Exam Preparation (4-5 Clock Hours per Week)

Strengthen your English skills and become familiar with the strategies you need to successfully pass the TOEFL ITP / iBT exam.

  • TOEFL iBT – 5 Clock Hours/Week
  • TOEFL ITP – 4 Clock Hours/Week

Sample Schedule

Take advantage of a four-day study week and academic advising sessions. Full-time students can select courses to maintain their F-1 or J-1 status (18-22 clock hours each week) while part-time students have the flexibility to select a schedule that fits their availability.








8-11:10 am 

Academic Advising 

Reading and Writing 

Listening and Speaking 

Reading and Writing 

Listening and Speaking 

11:30 am-12:20 pm

Academic Advising

American Pronunciation and Spelling

Academic Vocabulary for University Success

American Pronunciation and Spelling

Academic Vocabulary for University Success

Let's Talk: Strategies for Fluent Conversation Visual Vocabulary for Everyday Life Let's Talk: Strategies for Fluent Conversation Visual Vocabulary for Everyday Life
Grammar Power Reading Power Grammar Power Reading Power

12:30-2:25 pm


TOEFL ITP Preparation

TOEFL iBT Preparation

English for Professionals

All about the USA

TOEFL ITP Preparation

TOEFL iBT Preparation

Business English

All About the USA

1-4 pm

Service Learning


TOEFL iBT Preparation ends at 2:50 pm.





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