Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Sora Friedman


With tens of thousands of international students studying English as a Second Language (ESL) in the United States each year, private language schools such as Embassy CES (ECES) must strive to distinguish their programs from other offerings. Among the strategies currently used by ECES are state-of-the-art classroom technology and methodology, and a high quality academic English program for students, known as the ECES Diploma of English program.

This capstone paper is a proposal for a unique addition to the Diploma in English program at the ECES center in San Diego, California. The University Gateway program is intended to replace the most advanced level of the Diploma course. University Gateway aims to prepare students more thoroughly for the U.S. American university experience, not just in terms of linguistic proficiency but also in regards to their ability to acculturate, cope with stress, and understand the prevailing academic culture. Participating students learn English both through explicit language instruction and through content-based instruction. The latter includes cultural training, self-reflection, and training in mindfulness practices and time management skills. At minimal additional cost to ECES, students graduating from the University Gateway program will be better equipped with a full range of skills to cope with stress and help them succeed at U.S. American universities after their admission.

In creating the University Gateway program, the need for these innovations was assessed and a curriculum informed by Transformative Learning theory and a “backward design” process was created. Plans for staff training and evaluation were developed, and additional program logistics were examined. Implications for the generalization of the design to other academic English programs were also explored.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction


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