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Center for English as a Second Language

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The Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) is a 19,547 square-foot building located in the center of the University of Arizona campus.  As the only nationally accredited intensive English program in Arizona, CESL provides a comprehensive curriculum to students from over 95 countries around the world.  CESL’s goal is, “to provide superior English language instruction…serve the linguistic and professional development needs…[and] encourage respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.”

The program began 40 years ago, “When the university of Sonora in Hermosillo sent 22 engineers to the UA to perfect their English language skills before beginning their graduate degrees in the College of Engineering."   CESL continues to recruit foreign students to the university using a network of recruitment agents and affiliate agreements.  According to Admissions and Student Services Manager, Megan Goold, the majority of these students come from China and Saudi Arabia.

The Ernestine A. Neff Memorial Library has two state-of-the-art computer labs along with several other modern learning facilities located within CESL that are “dedicated exclusively to English language training, U.S. cultural studies and special programs."  The 300 students CESL recruits each semester have access to these facilities, as well as several other places around the UA campus, such as the UA BookStore and Campus Recreation Center.

In order to apply to become a part of this unique program, students must complete a four-page application with a $150 application fee.  Once accepted and after taking the necessary steps required to enter the U.S., they must plan their own housing arrangements.  Although CESL does not provide housing, helpful information and housing tips can be found on the CESL housing page.  Students begin their studies at the beginning of a regularly scheduled eight-week session, with their schedules consisting of “four hours of classes per day, Monday to Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Goold explained.

Ali Zahmi is one of the many Arabic students who traveled across the world to start a new life in Tucson and become a part of CESL.  Upon graduation from high school in May 2010, Zahmi entered the U.S. for the first time.  Although it was hard for Zahmi to leave the United Arab Emirates and his two brothers and three sisters, he came to the UA aspiring to obtain a degree in engineering.  Zahmi explained how adjusting to the American way of life deemed very difficult, as he was forced to pay phone bills, take care of insurance and perform housework on his own.  On a lighter note, Zahmi quickly became familiar with the fine American cuisine options that Tucson has to offer; In-N-Out Burger and Olive Garden have become two of his favorite restaurants.




Written by Jamie Turow

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