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Intensive English Programs in the United States: An Overview of Structure and Mentoring



Although English as a second language (ESL) programs are common in the United States, there is surprisingly little research documenting the existing structures and mentoring strategies they use. This lack of research could be partly due to ESL programs' widely varying internal structures (Larson, 1990) and the fact that they are often marginalized by the university academic system (see, e.g., Carkin, 1997; Case, 1998; Kaplan, 1997; Vandrick, 1994), which leaves many programs “homeless” and without the support of university-wide mentoring systems. This article is an overview of the structures and mentoring strategies found in ESL programs throughout the United States. A questionnaire was distributed electronically to the 67 accredited university ESL programs found on the University and College Intensive English Programs website, with 20 of the questionnaires returned. One surprising result was the relatively low number of teaching assistants employed by ESL programs. Although all of the programs surveyed offered some sort of professional development, there was a dearth of a formal mentoring structure within most of the ESL programs.