College of Liberal Arts

English Language Center (ELC)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who usually attends the English Language Center at Towson University in Maryland?

PAWS Snack Bar at ELC Towson MarylandStudents come from countries all around the globe -  Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Turkey, Germany, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Colombia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Thailand to name just some of them. They are usually between 17 and 26 years old, but we always have a few ranging in age up to their 50's.  Most of our students come with student visas, although we also cater to the local immigrant population as well as visitors, faculty spouses, etc.

How long does the program run?

During the spring  (late January- early May) and fall (late August - mid-December), our program runs for fifteen weeks, the same as Towson University.  This is because we feel students will benefit most from more in-depth study, which they cannot receive from short programs.

During the summer, students study for ten weeks (mid-May until mid-August).  The classes are more intensive and the time spent in class is longer to allow enough time to adequately cover the material.

What courses are offered?

Full-time students take a full load of courses including reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar.  In addition, students take a sixth course during the spring and fall terms.  This course (English Applications) might be Pronunciation through Song, American Travel Adventures, Vocabulary through Film, On-line Newsletter, Culture through the Media, etc.

Part-time students can enroll in any of the above classes plus there are ten-week classes (Cultural Conversation and Reading/Writing) that meet either in the mornings or evenings.

A TOEFL class is offered every semester in the evening.

How will I be placed in the correct classes?

Students are all placed in the appropriate level classes following a placement exam that is generally taken on the second day of school (the day after orientation).  There are four levels for all of the regular courses; hence it is easy to place students in a level with other students of a similar ability.

Who decides what classes I will take?

Students on an F-1 visa must be full-time, which means they will take the five core classes of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar along with one English Applications course.

All others may take the courses they choose, but the number of those courses depends on the visa they are on.  Most part-time students are limited to two classes per semester.  Permanent residents and citizens have no restrictions.  People on F-2 visas are not entitled to enroll in any classes.  People on a visitor's visa (B), who wish to take classes should first speak with someone from the International Student and Scholar Office (410-704-2421) ( (

Can I take the TOEFL at the ELC?

Yes.  We offer the TOEFL class every semester, including the summer.  Students can enroll in the class and take the paper-based test at the end of the term.  The cost of the test is part of the tuition fee.  Students who do not with to take the class may also register for the test.  The TOEFL test is an institutional one, which means that the score is accepted only at Towson University and a few other local schools, including Baltimore University. 

The International TOEFL (iBT - Internet Based)test is given at several locations around Baltimore and registration can be done on the web.

Where can I live when I am at Towson?

At the present time, ELC students may not live in Towson Dormitories.  However, there are many possibilities for students who wish to live off campus. Here are some options.

Where can I park on campus?

If you have a car and you park on campus:  You may ONLY park in the West Village Garage or at Towson Center  - you must park in the OVERFLOW spaces.  Be careful that you do NOT park in faculty, staff, or student parking.  Park on the 3rd floor.  Plus you MUST purchase a parking permit for the semester.  Otherwise, you can park on a daily basis in Visitor Parking.  Again, be careful to park in the Visitor Spaces NOT Commuter, Handicap, or Staff spaces.  You will get a ticket if you do not park correctly.

Do I need to have health insurance while I am studying at the ELC?

YES!  This is not just a requirement of Towson University, but it is required by Immigration.  Every international student MUST have health insurance.  Group insurance is offered through the university to Towson students .  If you already have insurance from your country, you must present the Health Center with a copy for approval.  If your current insurance is approved, then you will not need to purchase more.  However, if it is not acceptable, you will need to purchase the student health insurance.

Some students have told me that attending classes is not as important as doing well on exams.  Is this true?

Absolutely NOT!  Students who are here on a visa are required to attend all of their classes.  Students who are often absent risk losing their visas and being sent home.  But besides the visa requirement, grades are based on much more than just test scores.  Instructors expect students to attend classes, be prepared for the daily lessons, participate in class, and turn in their homework on time.

Class attendance is important because students make friends in class as well as learn.  They have an opportunity to practice what is in their texts through oral or written exercises.

I have heard that I can disagree with my instructor if I do not share his/her opinion.  Is this true?

Absolutely YES.  However, this does not mean you can argue with an instructor.  When the teacher asks a question, s/he expects you to offer your own opinion based on research and your knowledge.  If the teacher expresses her/his opinion and you disagree, you may respectfully voice your opinion, but must use evidence to support  your ideas.  If the teacher asks to continue the discussion after class, then you must willingly agree to do so.  It is inappropriate to argue with an instructor (or another classmate) at great length if it interferes with the regular class lesson.


"In the beginning I was very scared about adjusting to American life because my English skill was not enough to communicate with other people. Luckily, I had been to the ELC. It is a good place (it looks more like a cozy family than a place!) for a foreigner to learn English."

—Tuan (Vietnam)

ELC Student Handbook - Click on the link to access information about Baltimore, Towson, and the ELC - policies, classes, holidays, things to do and MORE!!



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