Year-round Start Dates, 8-week Sessions
24 Hours/Week, 192 Hours/Session
Introductory to Advanced Levels, CEFR A1-C2
Prerequisite: Conditional Admission to the University of Colorado Boulder, Undergraduates Only
Academic Courses Available
The Pathway to CU Program is for conditionally admitted students who have not met the English language proficiency requirements for admission into an undergraduate degree program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Students who choose to enroll in the Pathway to CU Program must successfully complete all levels of the program, or submit the required English language proficiency test scores prior to beginning their degree program at the university.
Students in good standing can begin earning CU degree credits while studying in the Pathway to CU Program. Once students have achieved a high intermediate level of English proficiency, they can select one or two credit-bearing university courses to take concurrently with their English language studies.
The program has eight levels*—four lower levels and four higher levels. The curriculum for each level is aligned with the standards of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).
Lower levels provide a foundation in English language structure, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Higher levels focus on the academic skills needed to succeed in university or graduate school. This includes more complex and sophisticated uses of English in terms of essays, interactions, presentations, and projects.
*Currently, the IEC offers 6 levels of English, and our lowest level is high beginner (CEFR A2+). If you would like to join our Intensive English Program, please review your English level here to make sure you meet our entry-level requirements. If you do not meet the minimum English requirement, you may be transferred to another program.
IEC English placement levels correspond to a range of Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) levels. Consideration is given to how students score on individual reading, writing, and listening skills.
|Lower Levels||CEFR Level|
|Level 1 (Introductory)||A1|
|Level 2 (Low Basic)||A1/A2-|
|Level 3 (Basic)||A2-/A2+|
|Level 4 (Low Intermediate)||A2+/B1-|
|Higher Levels||CEFR Level|
|Level 5 (Intermediate)||B1-/B1+|
|Level 6 (High Intermediate)||B1+/B2-|
|Level 7 (Low Advanced)||B2-/B2+|
|Level 8 (Advanced)||B2+/C1|
The program consists of three core courses: Writing; Listening and Speaking; and Reading.
- Grammar and vocabulary building are integrated into each core course.
- Instructors provide short lectures on new language points.
- Students engage in individual, pair, and small group activities to practice, review, apply and expand on skills.
- Textbooks, adapted texts, authentic materials, and student projects are incorporated throughout.
6 hours per week
This course provides students with the skills needed for effective academic writing. The writing process is emphasized, with a particular focus on paragraph and essay development, as well as error correction. Students gain practice in writing clear, concise, well-supported, and accurate communication using summary writing, paraphrasing, quoting, and synthesis. Reading materials provide a basis for developing ideas and models for writing.
Listening and Speaking
6 hours per week
This course helps students improve their oral communication skills in various social and academic settings. Students develop their conversation skills through role-plays, discussions, and vocabulary-building exercises. Lectures, debates, and formal discussions enable students to improve their note-taking skills, listening comprehension, and critical thinking. Oral presentations allow students to develop public speaking skills, effective body language, and pronunciation.
4 hours per week
This course is designed to assist students in becoming more confident and proficient readers in English. Students explore a variety of reading genres, including newspaper and magazine articles, websites, short stories, novels, university textbooks, and other non-fiction books. Reading skills, such as predicting, skimming, scanning, reading for details, vocabulary-building, inferencing, summarizing, and critical thinking are emphasized. Classroom discussions and exercises allow students to share and discuss their ideas about texts.
ESL Academic Bridge students take University Preparation (UP) courses starting at Level 4 and continuing through Level 8. UP courses prepare students to become successful CU Boulder students. In UP courses, students learn how to:
- manage time
- interact with professors, teaching assistants, classmates, advisors, roommates, and librarians
- avoid plagiarism and cheating
- think critically and express ideas logically
- access campus support services
Students are also introduced to their CU Boulder academic advisor and visit classes related to their major area of study.
Each session, students have the opportunity to register for one elective course.
- Each elective course meets 4 hours per week.
- Elective courses complement the core courses and provide students with the opportunity to focus on a specific skill or content area.
- Elective courses are multi-level.
- There are certain elective courses for lower level students and certain elective courses for higher level students (see below).
- Not all electives are offered each session.
Lower Level Elective Courses
In this interactive course, students gain a strong foundation in English language grammar. Through structured exercises and fun activities, students improve their accuracy and fluency in writing and speaking. The objective of this course is that students have a more clear understanding of how to use grammar structures with increased accuracy in speaking and writing.
Students work on English pronunciation errors that are common among second language speakers. Students practice individual sounds, with emphasis on rhythm, stress, and intonation to improve their overall comprehensibility.
Vocabulary & Idioms
This course focuses on acquiring and using high-frequency general vocabulary and idioms for reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students learn vocabulary-building techniques, read short articles and stories, listen to short film, TV clips and/or songs, use new vocabulary in writing and speaking, and expand dictionary skills. Students learn how to make speech clearer, more varied, and native-like.
In this course, students practice using English in practical situations through in class role-plays and outside of class field trips. Through practice listening to and speaking English, students work to improve their pronunciation and structure and expand their vocabulary. Students have the opportunity to go out into the community to practice speaking skills in real settings.
Sports & Nutrition
Students develop their English fluency in a fun and interactive way. They learn about healthy eating and fitness through videos, readings, and guest speakers. Students explore Boulder actively while learning new vocabulary related to fitness and health. They also play indoor or outdoor sports such as volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, basketball, hiking or cycling.
In this beginner to low-intermediate course, students focus on gaining confidence and fluency in speaking English. They practice using target pronunciation and grammar structures. They practice speaking English through the use of a variety of drama and other interactive speaking-activities.
Higher Level Elective Courses
In this high intermediate to advanced grammar course, students learn more complex forms and structures to help them create more sophisticated, nuanced, and effective written and oral communication. Students also have an opportunity to practice their editing skills in order to write more like a native speaker of English.
In this higher-level pronunciation course, students polish their English speaking skills by doing short presentations, oral readings, and impromptu speech activities. In addition to practicing rhythm, stress, and intonation, they will focus on articulation and vocal projection.
This course is designed for those preparing for university, graduate school, and standardized exams, such as the iBT TOEFL and the IELTS exams. Students will learn new academic vocabulary related to business, economics, psychology, the U.S. education system, science, history, and more. Practice exercises are challenging and interactive, and provide students with strategies for enhancing their English reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
This course provides students with strategies and test-taking practice for university English proficiency tests (TOEFL and IELTS). In this course, students improve academic vocabulary, reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. Students will review test formats and scoring, and practice with actual tests.
Graduate Test Preparation
This course provides prospective graduate students with strategies and test-taking practice for the GRE and GMAT admission tests. While an emphasis is placed on the GRE exam, students will also practice skills that apply to the GMAT. In this course, students will improve academic vocabulary, reading, critical thinking, and academic writing skills for the verbal section of the test. They will also improve basic math, algebra, geometry, and data analysis skills for the quantitative reasoning section of the exam.
This course teaches students how to write and speak effectively in U.S. business situations. Students gain practice in writing clear, concise, accurate, and persuasive texts, emails, memos, and short reports. They learn the art of small talk and conduct short presentations, conference calls, and simulated meetings. Students gain confidence as they develop their abilities to target communication for managers, colleagues, direct reports, and clients. They learn how to communicate good, bad, and neutral news.
English for STEM
Students learn how to write and speak effectively in academic and professional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) situations. They gain practice in writing clear, concise, accurate, and persuasive reports and informal proposals. Students improve their ability to describe, interpret, and analyze quantitative and visual data. They also gain confidence as they develop their abilities to target communication for classmates, professors, prospective employers, and other audiences.
Communicating About Math
This course is designed for high-intermediate to advanced level students who want to learn how to communicate more effectively In English about math concepts, equations, and word problems. Students review U.S. and metric measurement systems, as well as U.S. mathematical notations (for example, when to use a decimal point versus a comma). Students learn how to break down word problems in English and focus on relevant vocabulary. Sample math problems from the SAT, GRE, and GMAT exams are included.
English Through Video Presentation
This course provides instruction and practice in pronunciation, listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills as students create screenplays and short videos in English. Students create and practice short dialogs, watch short clips of films to analyze diction, setting, and tone, and work together in groups to create original storyboards and short scripts to perform on video. The course provides practice with pronunciation and opportunities for students to learn and use vocabulary related to film or their video project. It also includes opportunities for impromptu, informal, and/or formal presentations.
In this course, students use English to explore a variety of social and cultural topics. Students learn conversation strategies and appropriate social and academic vocabulary to discuss and respond to these topics. Students have the opportunity to go into the community to practice using English in real, practical situations such as visiting a courthouse, senior citizen center, or high school.
Sports & Nutrition
Students develop their English fluency in a fun and interactive way. They learn about healthy eating and fitness through videos, readings, and guest speakers. Students explore Boulder actively while learning new vocabulary related to fitness and health. They also play indoor or outdoor sports such as volleyball, soccer, frisbee, basketball, hiking or cycling.
In this course, students develop their English language proficiency through service-learning projects in the community. Students learn new vocabulary related to volunteerism and service learning. They have the opportunity to go into the community to practice English. Students volunteer at university events and at local organizations that serve both the local and global community.
U.S. History and Culture
This course improves students’ English skills through learning about periods in the history and culture of the United States through songs, TV shows, movies, and readings. Students develop content-based vocabulary, read and write about cultural events and changes throughout U.S. history, and understand important cultural references such as famous music and movies.
In this course, students read original works of popular fiction and watch television shows or movies about these stories. Students participate in lively discussions and write creative descriptive narrative texts about the fictional characters in these stories to further their understanding. Through reading stories and watching shows about characters in these stories, students improve their reading and listening comprehension.
Oral Communication Through Art
In this course, students develop their listening and speaking skills while learning about and making art. Students will explore different types of art by meeting Boulder artists, visiting art studios, and creating their own art in the class. Types of art could include clay pottery and sculpture, painting, drawing, monoprints, photography and/or recycled art.
Trip Across the U.S.
In this course, students go on a virtual "road trip" of each major region of the United States. Students will learn about important contemporary issues in U.S. life while gaining a better understanding of the U.S. Students will improve their cultural literacy, enhancing their comprehension of conversations and lectures at CU Boulder or other U.S. universities.
In this course, students gain valuable and necessary intercultural skills for their academic and professional careers. They examine and discuss cultures similar to their own as well as those that are radically different. Students use a variety of English language and critical thinking skills to explore complex relationships between culture and communication.
Sample Weekly Schedule for Lower Levels (Levels 1-4)
|10:40-12:30||Listening and Speaking||Elective||Listening and Speaking||Elective||Listening and Speaking|
|12:30-13:00||Tutoring||Culture Hour||Reading Club||Workshops on Higher Education Topics||International Coffee Hour|
|13:20-15:10||Writing||University Preparation||Writing||University Preparation||Writing|
Sample Weekly Schedule for Higher Levels (Levels 5-8)
|10:30-12:10||University Preparation||University Preparation|
|12:15-13:00||Tutoring||Culture Hour||Reading Club||Workshops on Higher Education Topics||International Coffee Hour|
|15:00-16:40||Listening and Speaking||University Credit Class||Listening and Speaking||University Credit Class||Listening and Speaking|
To successfully complete the Pathway to CU Program and be eligible to start their undergraduate program at CU Boulder, students must meet the following requirements:
- Students must finish the Program’s highest level (Level 8).
- Students must finish with a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
- Alternatively, students may choose to submit the required English language proficiency test scores to exit the program.
GPA is a number representing the average of the accumulated final grades earned in courses over time. CU Boulder calculates a student’s GPA using the following scale:
Sample Program Completion Timeline
|Placement Level||Semester 1||Semester 2||Semester 3|
|Advanced||1-2 university academic courses + 18 hours of English language study||Full-time degree program||Full-time degree program|
|High Intermediate||1 university academic course + 18 hours of English language study||1-2 university academic courses + 18 hours of English language study||Full-time degree program|
|Intermediate||20-22 hours of full-time English language study||1 university academic course + 18 hours of English language study||1-2 university academic courses + 18 hours of English language study|
Prospective students may take our online placement test to ensure a minimum English proficiency level.
New students take a placement test on the first day of the session. This test determines their level of English. The placement test includes:
- Reading (a computer-based test)
- Listening (a computer-based test)
- Grammar (a computer-based test)
- Narrative essay
- Expository essay
- All dates and prices are subject to change without notice.
- All prices are in U.S. dollars.
- Tuition is due on the first day of class unless otherwise noted.
The deadline to apply is 30 days prior to the start date of the session.
- complete the program’s highest level (Level 8) with no grade lower than a B- in any of their Level 8 classes
- finish with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
The minimum level of English proficiency accepted by the IEC is CEFR A2+. Please
review the chart below to make sure you meet the minimum requirement.
CEFR Level A2
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can't usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something