About the Intensive English Program (IEP)

>> Levels of English
>> Core Classes


The Intensive English Program (IEP) is located at Western Washington University in the beautiful city of Bellingham, Washington, USA.

Bellingham, population 90,000, is located between Seattle, Washington, USA and Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Bellingham sits on Puget Sound, part of the Pacific Ocean. The city has clean air, an informal and friendly atmosphere, vibrant downtown life, abundant trees and birds, a cool maritime climate, many parks with lakes and waterfalls, golf courses, hiking trails throughout the city, access to snow sports at Mt. Baker Wilderness Area and access to big-city fun in Seattle and Vancouver.

IEP helps students learn English for a variety of purposes including regular enrollment and degree program study at Western Washington University. Students register for a combination of core classes and English support classes. All students register for at least 23 hours of instruction per week.

IEP students are able to use all the resources of Western Washington University: the library, recreation center, student union, health center, outdoor playing fields and the Lakewood boating facility. Our offices and all of our classrooms are on campus, and IEP students are well integrated into university life.

The IEP is a member of the American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP).

Download IEP's Student Handbook

Levels of English

IEP students are placed in one of five main ability levels at the beginning of each quarter:
Level 1: Beginning
Level 2: Early Intermediate
Level 3: Intermediate
Level 4: Early Advanced
Level 5: Advanced

We understand how important accurate placement is to each student and we want you to be in the best learning environment. Each new student goes through three placement assessments:

  • Reading evaluation
  • Writing evaluation
  • Oral interview

After these assessments, students are assigned to their levels. Your instructors will observe you in class and evaluate you through diagnostic testing to ensure you are in the correct language level.

Core Classes:

Core Classes are the classes that are offered at each level of the program. The core classes help students learn and improve their English in all of the language skill areas. All students are required to take the core classes in their level. The core classes are Reading, Writing, Grammar, and Listening/Speaking. Some levels have other English Support Classes that are part of the core curriculum. All students register for at least 25 hours of instruction per week.

READING In the reading courses, students will develop reading comprehension, vocabulary and critical thinking skills, as well as learn more about American culture and contemporary world issues.  Students will also learn specific reading skills including previewing, skimming, vocabulary building, and analyzing organizational structure.
WRITING In the writing courses, students will develop the ability to write grammatically-correct sentences, clearly focused paragraphs, and well organized and developed essays.  In addition, many students are required to keep journals as part of their writing courses in order to enhance free writing skills and critical thinking.
GRAMMAR In the grammar courses, students will develop the ability to understand and use English grammar.  These courses focus on key grammatical structures as they help students develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.   
LISTENING/SPEAKING In the Listening/Speaking courses, students will develop listening and oral production skills by focusing on pronunciation, stress and intonation.  In addition, Listening and Speaking courses involve the practice of conversational functions and appropriate speech for a variety of everyday situations.  Students will also participate in small group discussion, debate and public speaking.  In the upper levels of the program, Academic Communication is offered as a core class instead of Listening/Speaking.    

English Support Classes:

English Support Classes are offered at every level and are designed to support the English language goals and standards at each level. All students are required to take English Support Classes. At some levels, there is only one English Support Class that all the students in that level take. In other levels, students have a choice among two or more English Support Classes.

Page Updated 02.25.2014