Basic English as a Second Language

BESL Philosophy Statement


Students enroll in BESL courses for many reasons. According to a 1999 survey to which 119 students responded:

  • Seventy-five checked that they wanted to find a better job
  • Seventy-four indicated that they wanted to receive an education
  • Fifty-two selected speaking as the most important language skill
  • Thirty-six picked listening
  • Reading received 11 votes and writing received eight
  • Fifty-six of the respondents indicated that they wished to enroll in courses in the Academic ESL Department

This information and other information from the survey reveal that it will be difficult for BESL faculty members to meet these needs in a particular BESL course. In addition, these students bring diversity in terms of preparedness in first and second language skills, motivation and focus to learn English, external pressure in terms of family responsibility and work, and learning styles.


Included here are links for the curriculum for each BESL course. Before developing the curricula for BSL 010 and BSL 011, the curricula for the first level in the Academic ESL Department were considered. Therefore, the BESL curricula are sequential and build upon each other, and the BESL faculty members are asked to deliver a particular curriculum in the context of the curricula that precede and follow it.

The BESL curriculum attempts to meet the various and many needs of the BESL students. As a result, it will be impossible for BESL faculty members to cover every objective in a particular curriculum. Therefore, BESL faculty members are encouraged to emphasize learning strategies so that the BESL students can become effective independent learners who take advantage of the vast resources in the Center of Self Directed Learning and Multi-Assistance Center (Refer to Handbook for details).  Students may enroll in any BESL course a second time if they wish.


Each BESL curriculum includes goals for developing cultural awareness and competency.  The BESL Department believes that students should not only learn language and job skills; they should also learn how to function in different cultural situations and be able to recognize and analyze cultural similarities and differences. Each student brings with him/her a wealth of cultural knowledge that, when shared, can be beneficial to all other students.  Therefore, faculty members are encouraged not only to integrate aspects of American culture, but to also include cultural aspects from each student in the class as well.


The BESL Department respects academic freedom and asks all BESL faculty members to survey their students, identify their most important needs, deliver the curriculum in the context of student needs, consider the curricula of the other BESL courses, and emphasize the teaching of learning strategies.


Each BESL curriculum indicates grammar structures to be taught, and there is a grammar handout for each BESL level with grammar explanations for these structures. The explanations come from Focus On Grammar, and exercises are available at the computer stations for ESL students at both the Chelsea and main campus. BESL faculty members are encouraged to teach these grammatical structures as they occur in authentic readings and student generated writing assignments. The mechanical aspect of learning these structures can take place in the Language Lab, located inside the Center for Self-Directed Learning (Room E235) on the main campus and the computer room in the Chelsea Campus with the Focus on Grammar software as well as other programs.


BESL course are either Listening/Speaking or Reading/Writing, but BESL faculty members are encouraged to use all language skills in any BESL course.


BESL faculty members are encouraged to teach their BESL students how to learn so they can become independent learners. To present and effectively teach all the points on a particular BESL curriculum will be impossible. When students learn how to use a dictionary for many purposes, such as how to find the correct definition according to the context of the reading and how to pronounce from the dictionary, they can become better independent learners. When they learn strategies to learn listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, and grammar structures such as verb tenses, they will be able to look at the curricula for all BESL courses and learn by themselves and thus learn more effectively and quickly.


While the Basic English as a Second Language (BESL) curriculum helps students improve their general English language skills and prepares them for academic coursework, it also helps students build job skills while improving their English by including both theme-based and task-based instruction. Theme-based English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction integrates language skills instruction with the study of a theme--in this case, many facets of working and the workplace. Since most of our BESL students wish to improve their ability to obtain employment or wish to obtain employment at a higher level, we believe that students will be genuinely motivated to learn English skills within the meaningful context of the workplace.

Moreover, the BESL curriculum has been designed to be task-based, which is a way to integrate the teaching of communicative tasks with the teaching of all language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar). While learning to write a memo, compile an inventory chart, or read a graph that shows the company’s recent revenues, students are not only gaining knowledge of how to complete the task itself; they are also learning the language needed to complete the task.  Another benefit of task-based instruction in ESL is that it often involves group work, preparing students to cooperate as team members in the workplace.

Both task-based and theme-based language instruction are appropriate at all levels of language competence. As the student develops more competence in English, the level of instruction increases and the complexity of the tasks required in the course also increases.  For example, in a beginning BESL course, a student may be asked to read a memo and paraphrase its message. In a higher BESL course, a student may be asked to write a memo to a supervisor to respond to a situation or to summarize a pie chart or bar graph that indicates sales in the last quarter. Thus, as students progress in language development, they also progress in workplace skills.

In summary, we believe that this program of providing task-based and theme-based English language instruction to our students maximizes language instruction and workforce training.

View each BESL course below for the course information and objectives.

BLL 001 and BLL 002 Basic Speaking and Listening/Basic Reading and Writing
BSL 001 Speaking and Listening I
BSL 002 Reading and Writing I
BSL 005 Speaking and Listening II
BSL 006 Reading and Writing II
BSL 008 Speaking and Listening III
BSL 009 Reading and Writing III