Undergraduate English Program

The English Language Institute assists international undergraduate students in acquiring the sophisticated use of English at the university through a sequence of English courses that fulfill UB’s Communicative Literacy requirement.

Placement Information for International Undergraduate Students

The English Language Institute congratulates you on your acceptance to the University at Buffalo! We welcome you and are excited to have you join a select group of young international scholars who have already chosen UB as their academic home.

As you prepare to begin your educational journey, we would like to share some important information with you. Specifically, we want to answer the question that is usually at the top of the list for most international students: Do I have to take an English class?

UB is committed to ensuring that all international students are fully prepared to be successful in their programs of study. To help all students achieve the goals of academic excellence and the sophisticated use of English at the university, UB has developed a sequence of English courses that comprise Communicative Literacy.

How is English course placement determined?

International undergraduate students studying at UB who are non-native speakers of English are placed into the Communicative Literacy English course sequence primarily on the basis of standardized English proficiency exam scores from tests such as the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS.

Course placement is determined by the English Language Institute through evaluating students’ sub-section scores (not total scores) on these English proficiency exams for each of the four skill areas (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). The English Language Institute will register students for a “Z” section of the appropriate English course(s). The “Z” sections of English courses are customized for the specific needs of international writers and speakers of English and are taught by English Language Institute instructors who have significant teaching experience in countries around the world.

Placement Rubric

  • The ENG 105Z placement rubric is based on TOEFL and IELTS exam sub-section scores (not total scores) for each of the four skill areas.
  • All non-native English speaking students who meet or exceed each of the four subsection scores should be placed in ENG 105Z.
Sub-Section Skill iBT TOEFL
Minimum Sub-Section Score
IELTS
Minimum Sub-Section Score
Reading 21 6.5
Listening 21 6.5
Speaking 23 6.5
Writing 24 6.5

What English courses will I take?

Students will be placed in “Z” sections of English courses according to their individual English language proficiency. These courses could include one or more of the courses below.

ENG 100Z — Introduction to Academic Writing: The ENG 100Z course prepares international student writers of English for the UB Curriculum’s Communications Literacy course sequence. Students will be introduced to the conventions of academic writing that are common across American universities. This course will examine varied types and styles of written texts, the variety of audiences these texts address, and the multiple purposes that written communications serve. In particular, this course will focus on the analysis, development, and revision of student writing, with special attention paid to argument structure and the effective use of formal written grammar.

ENG 105Z — Writing and Rhetoric: The ENG 105Z course (4 credits) provides international student writers of English with an introduction to research, writing, and the rhetorical practices employed in academic and professional contexts. This course will examine common types and styles of written texts, the variety of audiences these texts address, and the multiple purposes that written communications serve. In particular, this course will focus on the analysis, development, and revision of student writing, with special attention paid to generally accepted academic research writing practices.

ESL 411Z — Spoken English: The ESL 411Z course prepares international student speakers of English for the speaking, listening, pragmatic, and cultural conventions common to the American university setting. This course will examine varied spoken discourse types, purposes, and audiences that international students are likely to engage with during their academic careers and beyond. Special attention will be paid to formal presentation organizational and platform skills development and to strategies for improved native-like pronunciation and greater self-confidence when communicating orally in English.

What else do I need to know about my English courses?

Students who are placed in ENG 100Z and/or ESL 411Z must meet the following three conditions during their first semester:

  1. Students must take ENG 100Z (Introduction to Academic Writing) and/or ESL 411Z (Spoken English) course(s) in their first semester.
  2. Students who are placed in both ENG 100Z and ESL 411Z may not register for more than four courses total (this total includes the two English courses).
  3. Students must achieve a final grade of “C” or higher in each English course to fulfill this English requirement. If a student receives a final grade of “C-” or lower in either English course, the course(s) must be repeated the following semester until a final grade of “C” or higher is earned.

Questions?  Contact Us