• Maura McAndrew

CIS Welcomes The Center for English as a Second Language (CESL)


CESL students at an event in 2019 (via Facebook).
CESL students at an event in 2019 (via Facebook).

The College of International Studies is extremely excited to welcome OU’s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) under its umbrella! Beginning in fall 2021, CESL programs, formerly part of OU's Extended Campus, will comprise CIS’s fourth department, operating out of Farzaneh Hall alongside International Student Services, the Department of International and Area Studies and Education Abroad. CESL makes for an ideal addition to CIS, as it furthers the college’s mission of fostering international exchange and global fluency at the University of Oklahoma.


“We are very excited to have CESL, long a bastion of teaching excellence at OU, join the College of International Studies,” says College of International Studies Dean Scott Fritzen. “We see many possibilities: for helping our CESL students to integrate into campus life, for using CESL to help students gain a bridge to OU admissions, and for expanding our international partnerships and recruitment efforts to serve more students. The pandemic has made for hard times in international education across the board, but we are confident that the underlying demand to learn English is strong, that our delivery model is solid, and are optimistic about the road ahead.”

CESL Director Mary Martin
CESL Director Mary Martin

Since 1988, the Center for English as a Second Language has played an integral role in international education on OU’s campus. CESL offers English language instruction and cultural education to international students and adult learners with the goal of empowering them to communicate successfully in social, academic and professional settings. In 2020 the center implemented remote teaching, so CESL students now can join online from anywhere in the world. CESL’s staff is comprised of Director Mary Martin and instructors Hillary Kirk and Keely Robertson, all of whom have many years of experience teaching English as a Second Language.


“We are excited to step into this new chapter of CESL’s 33-year history,” Martin says. “Being a part of the College of International Studies in the heart of the OU campus will bring so many new opportunities for our students to have that American university experience they have come so far to be a part of.”


CESL’s core student population is undergraduate and graduate-level international students who need to polish their English skills before joining their degree program at OU. The center’s Academic English Program covers reading, writing, listening and speaking, and helps students prepare for IELTS and TOEFL iBT tests. Those enrolled in this program can also opt into the OU Track, which not only helps students meet language proficiency admission requirements but also offers university prep courses, advising support and other activities. In recent years, CESL has expanded beyond the student population with the part-time General English Program, which caters to community members who want to improve their English for professional reasons.


Those interested in learning more about CESL and applying to its programs can visit esl.ou.edu or email esl@ou.edu.