ESLThese pages have been developed to help the intermediate and advanced English language learners become better acquainted with resources available to further their studies in English as a Second Language. If your intent is to study English in an environment that is 'English-friendly', that is to say, a place in which English is the most common language (such as Iowa), then you have come to the right place. There are many avenues that lead to second language fluency and appropriate links are found in the section to the left. The information here is intended to be used in conjunction with the personal attention of an English language instructor. The exercises may be helpful for students' evaluation of their own English proficiency.

The interactivity of these pages can help individual language learners to assess their skill levels and discover where their needs can be met. Again, the purpose of these pages is not to teach but to assist the learner and the learner's instructor in the search for ways to achieve the goal of successful second language acquisition.

The author of this website has been both a Spanish language learner and an English language instructor for many years. In that time two principal approaches to second (and/or foreign) language acquisition have become evident. Together they have shown themselves to be very well suited to achieving communicative competency in both the second and foreign language (L2).

The first concept is that knowing how the language is used is a much more successful methodology to learning a new language than being able to translate vocabulary and grammatical structures from the first language to the second. Literal translations from one language to another result in clumsy, artificial and stilted L2 production. It is time-consuming, mentally exhausting and ultimately unsuccessful. At best it only approximates the second language use and at worst the results are completely unintelligible.

Being able to speak a new language is much more than simply putting words together in a certain sequence. This may sound elementary but to this language learner it took years to realize that ways of speaking and ways of thinking develop in tandem. Languages evolve to enable the user to communicate ideas which have been shaped by culture. While this cultural context may at first seem to be a subtle influence, it is in fact pervasive and overriding. What we often refer to as 'fluency' is as dependent on cultural factors as linguistic ones.

The fact that you are studying English and at the same time are surrounded by a friendly English-speaking population only enhances your chances for success. Practicing the language as it is used daily means that you don't have to rely on role-playing. You are exposed to authentic English use (rather than artificial usage) continually. You can speak (and listen) face-to-face and by telephone with English speakers daily.

In addition to regular English interaction, you have full (sometimes it will seem, unceasing) access to sources of English input such as radio, television, movies, the print media and of course, the Internet. Each of these choices offers an open window to the culture that has evolved as has the language that is used by your friends and acquaintances. You may not realize it, but you are in an enviable situation.

The second concept, and one that may be more fundamental to language learners, is that the student must be willing to take risks. It is absolutely essential that the language learner take the new vocabulary and structures out into the world and practice their use with other language users. Too often an emphasis on accuracy, as it is stressed in the classroom, carries over into the language learner's everyday exercise of the new language and interferes with successful communication.

In time and with practice, practice and more practice, you will become more comfortable speaking English and the inevitable errors will become opportunities for improving your L2 proficiency rather than embarrassing gaffes. As you become more comfortable with your new language rather than fearful of using it, you will find that you are surrounded by friends you never knew you had. You will eventually find your place and enter into the fabric of the culture in which you have chosen to live. You will have become bilingual.


It is quite possible that native-like accuracy in an L2 is impossible after a certain stage in the language learner's development. Aiming for accuracy can lead to frustration and may even slow the learner's progress. The language instructor may be able to help the learner lay a foundation upon which the new language is built but the actual language learning takes place outside of the classroom. Looking back on my years of developing competency in Spanish, it is clear that the months I spent with my instructors played a relatively small role in any successes I've experienced with my new language. Practicing the language and correcting inevitable mistakes has shaped whatever proficiency that I enjoy.

These two concepts aside, once we've decided to expand our minds by learning a new language, the first question we need to ask is, "Why do I want to learn English?" You may address that question by clicking on the Needs Analysis link to your left and help us all by completing one or several of the attached questionnaires.

The surveys you are being asked to take part in are designed to help the instructor meet the needs of the language learners who visit this website. After you have chosen an appropriate questionnaire and selected the given answers, review your answers and think about why you have chosen to pursue the English language. When you have done this, please return to this page and begin exploring the different resources that are available to guide you in this learning experience.

It is entirely possible that after meeting your instructor and your classmates and being exposed to an expanded world of English, you may have completely different expectations and language needs. In as little as a few days, your selections to the survey's questions today may have changed. If you suspect that they may have, try it again.

Feel free to make yourself at home here and if you find anything that needs improvement, correction or a better explanation, please contact me.

Thank you.


Last Updated: February 25, 2017