English Language Acquisition (ELA)

Kirkwood’s English Language Acquisition (ELA) course of study offers many opportunities for you to practice your English speaking and writing skills. A Kirkwood education can help prepare you for a better career or get you ready to transfer to a four-year institution.

All courses are taught in English, which helps prepare you for further study at Kirkwood. Additionally, studying English helps non-native speakers improve their employment and promotion opportunities.

Next Steps To Get Started

English - Next Steps

Français - Prochaines Étapes

Español - Próximos Pasos

الخطوات التالية - عربى 

中國 - 下一步

Tiếng Việt - Bước Tiếp Theo

The following people will benefit from Kirkwood’s ELA course of study:

  • Students who plan to study at Kirkwood or other undergraduate colleges.
  • Students from abroad who want more English education.
  • Professionals interested in improving their English speaking and writing skills.
  • Students who need English preparation before entering graduate school.

Students whose native language is not English must take ELA courses. There are two exceptions, however: If you score an appropriately high score on an English proficiency test or if you transfer credit from a college or university where most of your classes were conducted in English.

An official TOEFL score of 500 PBT, 173 CBT, 63 IBT or higher; SAT score of 430 or higher; or ACT score of 18 or higher on the English portion, prove English proficiency. If you do not have one of these scores, you will be required to take Kirkwood's placement test when you arrive for ELA placement.

You will take five classes at each ELA level and gain proficiency in these areas:

  • Academic Writing
  • Pronunciation
  • Research Skills
  • Conversation Fluency
  • Grammar
  • Listening and Note Taking
  • Computer Literacy
  • Reading and Vocabulary Development
  • American Cultural Skills
  • Presentation Skills

When you come to Kirkwood, your English language skills will be assessed to determine which ELA level is most appropriate for you. You will take the ESL Accuplacer test. This test is free. It has three sections: Writing, Language Use, and Reading.

These are our levels:

  • Level 1: Beginning English
  • Level 2: Advanced Beginning English
  • Level 3: Beginning Intermediate English
  • Level 4: Advanced Intermediate English
  • Level 5: Beginning Advanced English

Your score on the placement test determines at which level you will begin the ELA course of study. If you score lower than Level 1 on the test, or are not able to take the test, you will need to consult with the ELA coordinator.

Your listening and speaking skills will be determined by a 20-minute interview with a teacher.


Schedule your online tests:

Reading/Writing/Grammar Test

Listening/Speaking Test


Schedule your in-person test:

You can complete your reading and grammar tests online OR at the campus test center. You will still need to complete listening and writing tests online.

Make placement test appointments for:

Cedar Rapids Test Center


Iowa City Test Center

Most classes will be online for Spring 2021. You must have a reliable computer and internet access. We will contact you by email about placement testing and online orientation. Please use an email address you will check frequently.

If you are a NEW student, before you can register, you need to do this:

  • Apply online to be a student at Kirkwood
  • Ask yourself these questions:
    • Do I have a reliable computer and internet connection?
    • Am I able to use programs like Microsoft Word?
    • Do I have the ability to attach large images to email?
    • Are online classes right for me, or should I wait until fall?
  • Register for Orientation

If you plan to apply for financial aid, do so as soon as possible by filling out the FAFSA

If you have questions, call Sharon 319-398-5668 on the Cedar Rapids campus. In Iowa City call Mohamed Joreya at 319-887-3628. You must leave a message. You can also email ELA@kirkwood.edu.

Classes & Curriculum

Kirkwood offers the following courses in ELA. While ELA courses do not transfer to other colleges and universities, two of the Level 5 bridge classes, which count as 6 elective credits, and the Kirkwood speech requirement, do transfer.

ELA Courses

Course Number Course Title Credits
ESI-007 L1 Listening and Conversation 3
ESI-010 L1 Phonetics and Pronunciation 3
ESI-006 L1 Reading and Vocabulary 3
ESI-011 L1 ELA Grammar 4
ESI-014 L1 ELA Writing  2
Total Credits 15
Course Number Course Title Credits
ESI-019 L2 Listening Skills and Conversation 3
ESI-021 L2 Phonetics and Pronunciation 3
ESI-023 L2 Reading and Vocabulary 3
ESI-018 L2 ELA Grammar 4
ESI-016 L2 ELA Writing 2
Total Credits 15


NOTE: Level 2 and 3 students may take an optional L2/L3 Keyboarding class for 1 credit.

Course Number Course Title Credits
ESI-039 L3 Listening Skills, Conversation, and Culture 3
ESI-040 L3 Phonetics and Pronunciation 3
ESI-042 L3 Reading and Vocabulary 3
ESI-038 L3 ELA Grammar 4
ESI-037 L3 ELA Writing 2
Total Credits 15


Note: Level 2 and 3 students may take an optional L2/L3 Keyboarding class for 1 credit.

Course Number Course Title Credits
ESI-062 L4 Culture and Conversation 3
ESI-069 L4 Presentations 3
ESI-068 L4 Reading and Vocabulary 3
ESI-064 L4 ELA Grammar 3
ESI-063 L4 ELA Writing 3
Total Credits 15


NOTE: Level 4 and Level 5 students may take an optional keyboarding class for 1 credit.

Level 5 Bridge Classes

Level 5 ELA students take five classes. Of these classes, three are bridge classes. These classes are taught in the same way as other credit courses, which allows students to practice their new skills and gauge their capacity for success after leaving ELA coursework.

Course Number Course Title Credits
ESI-090 L5 Culture and Conversation 3
SPC-112  Introduction to Public Speaking 3
SPC-101 Fundamentals of Oral Communication 3
RDG-130 Effective Reading Strategies 3
ENG-101 Elements of Writing 3
ESI-072 Fundamentals of English Grammar 3
Total Credits 15


NOTE: Level 4 and Level 5 students may take an optional keyboarding class for 1 credit.

Fall Term 2020

Monday, Wedneday, Fri: 9:05 - 10 a.m.

Hala - Zoom link

Tuesday and Thursday: 11:15 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Iryna - Zoom link

Monday and Friday: 12:20 – 1:15 p.m.

April - Zoom link

Tuesday and Thursday: 12:20 – 1:15 p.m.; Sunday 11:15 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Sofia - Zoom link

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 1:25 – 2:20 p.m.

Jake - Zoom link password: 0SyhJm

Tuesday and Thursday: 5 – 6 p.m.

Rita - Zoom link password: iowa

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 6 – 7 p.m.

Amal - Zoom link

Tuesday: 8 – 9 p.m.

Gail - Zoom link

The Language Lab is located in 3010 Cedar Hall, on the main campus. It is open:

Monday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Tuesday: 8 – 10 a.m.

Thursday: 8 – 10 a.m. and Noon – 2 p.m.

Friday: 9 a.m. – Noon.

Access the online learning tool Mango.

Meet Our Faculty

Elizabeth Baertlein
Instructor, ELA
319-398-5899, ext. 5152
3020 Cedar Hall

B.A.; St. Mary’s University
M.A.; St. Cloud State University

Betsy Baertlein teaches English Language Acquisition (ELA) courses and has completed her master’s degree in teaching English as a second language at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, her bachelor’s degree in English at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has completed additional graduate coursework in the Language, Literacy and Culture doctorate program at The University of Iowa and her research interests include critical pedagogy and language learner identities. Betsy is a dedicated bicycle commuter and can be seen biking to campus in all weather.

Ryan Dehner
Associate Professor, ELA
Room 343 Iowa City Campus

B.A.; University of Wyoming
M.A.; University of Iowa

Ryan has experience teaching world languages at the K-12, community college, university, and federal government level. Before Kirkwood, he taught Spanish at Laramie High School, supervised student teachers at The University of Iowa, and trained language teachers at the Defense Language Institute's Instructor Development Branch. He has resided in England, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and explored many parts of Europe, Central and South America, Australia, the Middle East, South-Central Asia, and Africa. His professional interests involve teacher mentoring, building cross-cultural understanding, working with refugee populations, L2 curriculum design, L2 methodologies, competency-based learning, and oral proficiency assessment. Ryan teaches English Language Acquisition (ELA) courses.

Esperanza Muñoz Pérez
1019 Cedar Hall

B.A. and M.A.; University of Iowa

Esperanza, a native of Spain, arrived in Iowa City in 1994 after living previously in Scotland and in the Pacific. Her passion for history, culture, and language was richly rewarded while working with 18th-century Spanish documents for the Micronesian Research Center at the University of Guam. All aspects of language intrigue her, whether related to her experience as an interpreter and translator or as a language professor for the last 16 years. Her love for Romance languages led her to study Latin, Portuguese, Italian, French language and Literature, as well as Medieval Spanish Literature. The intricacies of language have always been an important part of her academic and personal life. Esperanza teaches English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes. 

Carlos Ortega-Amparán
Assistant Professor, ELA
319-398-5988, ext. 5830
3019 Cedar Hall 

Carlos teaches English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes.

Olga Petrova
Room 253 Iowa City Campus

M.A.; English and German, Russian Pedagogical State University, St. Petersburg, Russia
M.A.; TESOL, University of Northern Iowa
Ph.D.; Linguistics, University of Iowa

Olga arrived in Iowa City almost a quarter of a century ago, at the time of the first of the multiple successive 500-year floods, when Riverside Drive was closed and ducks were "sitting" on the benches in front of the Iowa Memorial Union. She has been working for Kirkwood since 2002, most recently coordinating English Language Acquisition course sequence on the Iowa City Campus for non-native speakers, and - occasionally - linguistics classes at the University of Iowa. Olga teaches English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes.

Colleen Schmitt
319-398-5899, ext. 5989
3024 Cedar Hall 

B.A., Luther College
M.A., Hamline University

Colleen holds a B.A. in English and Spanish from Luther College and earned an M.A. in ESL with an adult learner emphasis from Hamline University. Prior to joining International Programs, Colleen coordinated Kirkwood’s noncredit ESL program in Iowa City. Her professional interests include advocacy for English Language Learners and best practices for teaching students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE). Colleen is a licensed K-12 educator and taught high school English, Spanish, and ELL for several years. She has studied in Chile, Spain, Ecuador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico and has led service-learning trips for American students abroad.  

  • Hala Abumaizer-Scheetz
  • Rita Cabello
  • Sofia Chesney
  • Kelly Fink
  • Kim Flugga-Ciha
  • Amy Guo
  • Iryna Hasnikova
  • April Hetrick
  • Gail Koch
  • Stephen McTier
  • Jennie Morton
  • Linda Park
  • Eleanor Price
  • Gloria Wenman
  • Nancy York
  • Tamar Bernfeld
  • Scott Bleuer
  • Nathan Borrett
  • Craig Covington
  • Diane DeMaria
  • Robert DeSpain
  • Jacob Herring
  • Darren Hetrick
  • Wendy Labinger
  • Yvonne Maruniak
  • Sandy Marz
  • Dana Noble
  • Denise Tiffany
  • Emily Wagner


Global Learning / English Language Acquisition
3051 Cedar Hall