Frequently Asked Questions

If you can't find the answers to your questions here, please feel free to contact us.  

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Who usually attends the Towson University English Language Center?

Students come from 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 a few. Students are usually between the ages of 17 and 26, 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 short-term visiting students and professors, members of TU faculty and their spouses, and professionals working in the area.

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 in-depth study, which they cannot receive from short 8-week programs.  Learning a language takes calendar time! 

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 integrated skills courses including reading, writing, grammar, and listening, speaking, grammar. In addition, students take a sixth course during the spring and fall terms. These courses are linked to the Reading and Writing grade and complement the skills learned in these classes.  They include Pronunciation/ Phonics, Vocabulary, and American University Experience.

Part-time students can enroll in any of the above classes or take some of our part-time courses like English Conversation and Culture that meets  in the mornings, evenings, or weekends and are perfect for Au pairs or other visitors to Baltimore.

Accent Modification is available on Wednesday evening or by appointment for one- on-one sessions.  Faculty are available to consult in your place of business if necessary. 

A TOEFL Preparation class is offered every semester on Tuesday and Thursday evening.

An IELTS Preparation class is offered every semester on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.  

How will I be placed in the correct classes?

Students are all placed in the appropriate level classes following a placement exam given on the second day of orientation. There are six levels (pre beginner to pre graduate) for all of the regular courses, so it is easy to place students in a level with other students of a similar ability.

Who decides how many 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.  Depending on their level, F1 - Visa students must also take Phonics (Beginners), Vocabulary (Intermediate), or American University Experience (Advanced).  

All others may take the courses they choose, but the number of those courses depends on what visa they are on. Most part-time students on F2 or B visas are limited to two or three classes per semester. Permanent residents and citizens have no restrictions. Students on J visas are usually not limited, but they should check with our office for confirmation.

Can I change my Level in a class?
If you feel that a class is too easy or too difficult, you can talk with your teacher. He or she can decide whether or not you can move up or down a level. Students may not change a level or a class section without written permission from these three people: the current teacher, the future teacher, and the director or associate director of the Towson ELC.
Can I take the TOEFL at the Towson ELC?

Yes. We offer the TOEFL class every semester, including the summer.  This class focuses on skills necessary for success on two TOEFL tests:

  • The ITP Institutional Paper-Based Placement test. "Institutional" means that the score is accepted only at Towson University.

      Students can take the ITP at the Towson ELC at the end of the course. 

      Students who do NOT wish to take the class may also register for the test. 

      The dates are posted on the APPLY page.  

  • The International TOEFL (iBT - Internet Based test).  The score on this test is acceptable at any university in the U.S.

Students will take practice tests in class, but the Towson ELC does not offer the official iBT test.  However, students can take it at several locations around Baltimore.       Registration and testing locations are available online. 

Where can I live when I am at Towson?

At the present time, Towson ELC students may not live in Towson dormitories unless they have conditional admission or are taking classes during the summer semester. However, there are many possibilities for students who wish to live off campus, some of which are within walking distance.

Do I need to have health insurance while I am studying at the Towson 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. An independent company, International Student Organization (ISO) and PSI International Student and Scholar Health Insurance offers an acceptable insurance plan at a lower cost.

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 an F1-Visa are required to attend ALL 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, prepare for their daily lessons, participate in class, and turn in their homework on time. And don't forget to buy your textbooks!

This is an  academic preparation program, and if you want to make progress, you have to take your studies seriously.  There is a strong connection between attendance and grades because you are learning a language, and this is a skill that requires practice and interaction with other speakers.  

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.
What is plagiarism and what does it mean for a student?

Basically, plagiarism is taking someone else’s idea and presenting it as your own. In the United States, this is not only unacceptable, it can be illegal. Plagiarizing is a form of cheating and theft. In some cultures, people believe that knowledge belongs to society not to individuals. If you have knowledge, it is your responsibility to share it. In the United States, however, we highly value the contribution of individuals to our society. People want to protect their “ideas” from being stolen. This includes written material, songs, films, information on the Internet, and photographs.

Plagiarism appears most often in writing classes because many students find it very difficult to put ideas into their own original words. International students especially struggle to paraphrase and summarize without copying the words of an article. As challenging as it is to use your own words, this is what you must do.

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. 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 $75 ticket if you do not park correctly.