College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore 570
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8610
Fax: (808) 956-2802


*Graduate Faculty

*E. Gilliland, PhD (Chair)—writing studies, adolescent literacy, teacher education, qualitative research methods, discourse analysis
*N. Ziegler, PhD (Graduate Chair)—second language acquisition, interaction, corrective feedback, task-based language teaching, synchronous computer mediated communication, Maritime English
(English as a lingua franca, English for specific purposes in the commercial shipping industry)
*G. Crookes, PhD (Undergraduate Chair)—classroom teaching, materials and syllabus design, critical language pedagogy
*D. Crowther, PhD—second language speech intelligibility, global Englishes, listening and speaking pedagogy, research methodology
*T. Grüter, PhD—morphosyntax and semantics, developmental psycholinguistics, language processing, bilingualism
*C. Higgins, PhD—sociolinguistics, multilingualism, discourse analysis, linguistic landscapes
*D. R. Isbell, PhD—language testing and assessment, second language pronunciation, instructed second language acquisition, technology in language learning, quantitative research methods
*G. Kasper, Dr. phil.—language and social interaction, qualitative research
*B. D. Schwartz, PhD—linguistic theory and second language acquisition, second language analysis, second language processing, child second language acquisition
*D. Zheng, PhD—cognition and instruction, second language technology and pedagogy, bilingual education, instructional media

Emeritus Faculty

R. Bley-Vroman, PhD—English syntax, second language analysis, formal models of language acquisition
J. D. Brown, PhD—language curriculum development, language testing, language program evaluation, quantitative research methods
R. R. Day, Phd—extensive reading, second language teacher education, curriculum design, materials development
T. Hudson, PhD—language testing, reading, methods and materials, English for specific purposes, research methods

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

A. Berez-Kroeker, PhD—language data preservation, interface between endangered language communities, language technology, preservation and dissemination of records of language in use
H. Cook, PhD—Japanese sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, language socialization and pragmatics
S. Fukuda, PhD—theoretical and experimental syntax; lexical semantics; syntax-lexical semantics interface phenomena and their acquisition
M. Gonzalez-Lloret, PhD—second language acquisition, technology and language instruction, Spanish linguistics, pragmatics
K. Kanno, PhD—Japanese SLA, pedagogical grammar, language analysis
K. Kondo-Brown, PhD—heritage language learning, assessment, Japanese language learning
W. O’Grady, PhD—syntax, first and second language acquisition, Korean
A. J. Schafer, PhD—sentence comprehension and production across languages (including Korean, Japanese, and Austronesian languages); sentence prosody; information structure; psycholinguistic approaches to language documentation and conservation

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

E. Hauser, PhD—conversation analysis
H. T. Nguyen, PhD—interactional competence, classroom discourse, conversation analysis

Degrees Offered: BA (including minors) in second language studies, MA in second language studies, PhD in second language studies, Advanced Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies (SLS), Advanced Graduate Certificate in SLS-Spanish Applied Linguistics

The Academic Program

The SLS department’s programs prepare students for professional and academic careers in second language and multilingual settings, including but not limited to language education. Through course work and independent research, students acquire a broad knowledge base and familiarity with a range of research approaches and an understanding of ethics and professionalism in second language studies.

Employment opportunities have expanded nationally and internationally to include various types of educational and occupational institutions. In addition to language education and administration at all levels, employment opportunities extend to such domains as publishing, test development for international agencies, and language training programs for businesses.

The department, whose MA program dates back to 1961, is regarded as one of the most prestigious second language programs worldwide. Offerings comprise a wide range of general and specialized courses. SLS faculty members are well respected nationally and internationally through their research, publications, and leadership roles at national and international levels. It attracts top-quality students and maintains a variety of services and activities that stimulates a high level of student satisfaction and collaboration, including post-graduation employment advice and assistance.

SLS faculty members have served on the executive boards of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association. Department faculty are also present and past editors of the international journals Applied Linguistics (C. Higgins, G. Kasper), Language Learning (T. Grüter), Journal of Response to Writing (E. Gilliland).

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree

The Bachelor of Arts degree program in second language studies provides students with a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of issues related to how second and foreign languages are learned, taught, and used in local and global contexts. This program, in accord with the values of SLS graduate degree programs, takes the broad view that plurilingual and pluricultural societies have greater success at communication in and across languages, which enables mutual understanding and appreciation, conflict resolution, and negotiation of values.

The program addresses theory, research, and practice, and helps prepare students to become second language specialists who understand the nature of second language learning and use in diverse circumstances, and are able to act upon related challenges that emerge in a variety of settings. The BA in SLS also serves as an excellent preparation for entry into a variety of language-related graduate programs.


Students must complete 33 credit hours of upper division courses, including:

  • 21 credit hours of required courses: SLS 302, 303, 304, 311, 430, 480(alpha), and 485
  • 3 credit hours of either SLS 301, LING 320, or SLS 601
  • 9 credit hours of elective courses: 300-499 courses from SLS, or 300-499 courses from other departments (as approved by the SLS BA advisory committee).

For more information about the BA degree in SLS, see and contact the department’s undergraduate coordinator. Newly declared majors should make appointments with the SLS undergraduate coordinator as soon as possible.

Minor Degrees

Minor in Second Language Teaching

The minor in Second Language Teaching allows students to gain a core understanding of language teaching and learning, along with courses in language pedagogy to deepen their expertise and qualifications for a language teaching career. Students wishing to obtain a minor in Second Language Teaching must complete 18 credit hours of 300- or 400-level SLS courses, including:

  • Required courses (9 credits): SLS 301, 302, and 303.
  • Elective courses (9 credits): Three courses from SLS 311, 312, 313, 418, 460, 475 (teaching practicum, if space is available after majors have enrolled), or 480P.

Minor in Second Language Studies

The minor in Second Language Studies allows students to gain both a core understanding of language, language use, and second language acquisition as well as additional knowledge in any area of the field they deem useful or relevant to their own goals. Students wishing to obtain a minor in Second Language Studies must complete 15 credit hours of 300- or 400-level SLS courses, including:

  • Required courses (9 credits): SLS 301, 302, and 304.
  • Elective courses (6 credits): Two 300- or 400-level courses in SLS (except SLS 485).

BA+MA Pathway

The Department of Second Language Studies offers a BA+MA Pathway that helps students earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just 5 years. BA students in SLS who are admitted into the pathway are able to double-count 9 credits towards both a BA and an MA in the Department of Second Language Studies, including taking three 600-level courses in their senior year.

Some students may take more or less time, depending on variables such as double majoring, AP credits, back credits, and number of eligible credits taken each semester.

For more information about the BA+MA Pathway in SLS, see and contact the SLS undergraduate coordinator.

Graduate Study

The department offers an MA degree in second language studies, two Advanced Graduate Certificates in second language studies, and a PhD degree in second language studies. The MA and PhD degree programs are recognized Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, upon admission with a GPA of 3.00 or higher, to enroll at 150 percent of Hawai‘i resident tuition rates. See the “Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid” section of this Catalog for more information on WICHE programs.

Master’s Degree

The main goal of the Master of Arts degree program is to serve the needs of prospective and practicing teachers, administrators, and researchers in the area of second and foreign language studies. Attention is given to the areas of second and foreign language acquisition, applied psycholinguistics, second language use, second language research, bilingual education, curriculum development, and teacher education, among others.

The program emphasizes theory as well as practice. In addition to the courses dealing with approaches to language teaching, materials, and testing, core courses are concerned with the linguistic, psychological, and sociological aspects of language and language learning. The core courses, which are primarily theoretical, are designed to provide an essential foundation on which the more practically oriented courses can build.

The MA in SLS does not result in teaching certification. Contact the College of Education for information regarding State of Hawai‘i teacher certification.

Entry into the MA program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. Most applicants whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. The GRE is not required for MA in SLS applicants.

Application materials are required for both the Graduate Division and for the Department of Second Language Studies. For details about how to apply, see: sls/graduate/ma/ma-admissions/.


All students in the MA program, whether Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C, are expected to have substantial, diverse experience of multilingualism and language learning. Students who have not had such experience before entering the program are required to take at least a semester of language study, which does not count toward the 36-credit MA.

Plan A (Thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 600, 601, 650, 660
  • One core seminar (3 credits): SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Five electives approved by the advisor (15 credits)
  • SLS 700 thesis research (6 credits)

Plan B (Non-thesis) Requirements

  • Four core courses (12 credits): SLS 600, 601, 650, 660
  • One core seminar (3 credits): SLS 730, 750, 760, or 775
  • Seven electives approved by the advisor (21 credits)
  • Submission of an acceptable scholarly paper

Plan C Requirements

Plan C is an individually planned program for established language scholars who wish to purse an additional degree. For admission requirements, contact the Graduate Chair.


As an option, the 36-credit MA program allows students to specialize in various tracks. Each track requires a distinct selection of four courses from among various electives, as well as a related core seminar. Five tracks are available:

  • Critical second language studies
  • Language assessment, measurement, and program evaluation
  • Language and social interaction
  • Language education (“English” can be designated)
  • Second language acquisition

For further information about these tracks and the MA program, see:

Advanced Graduate Certificate

The Advanced Graduate Certificate program in second language studies provides advanced training to those who already have a graduate degree (master’s or doctorate) in applied linguistics, foreign languages, ESL, or related fields. The program is specifically aimed at those who wish to re-specialize or to update their training to include recent developments in the field. Applicants must have completed an MA or PhD degree in an appropriate field, or they must be a continuing student in an MA or PhD program in an appropriate field at UH Mānoa before entering the certificate program. Graduate students enrolled in other programs at UH Mānoa are permitted to apply for the certificate while they concurrently complete another graduate degree. For specific information and guidelines on the AGC application process, see:

The course of study typically lasts about two semesters and includes 15 credits (five courses) and a research paper (scholarly paper) to be produced during the program. Transfer credits are not applicable toward graduate certificate requirements. However, up to six UH Mānoa PBU credits may be applied. Students who complete the graduate certificate in SLS will obtain knowledge and skills in second language studies with possibilities including second language analysis, learning, pedagogy, and use, in utilization of research findings, and application of research methods

As a culminating activity in the program, students are required to submit a paper that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent, high-quality scholarly research. This paper must be new research (i.e., different from prior graduate work) conducted under the supervision of the program’s faculty.

Advanced Graduate Certificate in SLS-Spanish Applied Linguistics

This AGC allows graduate students to specialize in Spanish applied linguistics. The program is flexibly tailored to the academic and professional goals of the individual student and includes courses in English and Spanish in several departments. Up to 9 credits that are counted toward the Advanced Graduate Certificate SLS-Spanish Applied Linguistics may be counted toward another degree. For more information, see: sls/graduate/agc/agc-spanish-applied-linguistics/.

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program in second language studies at UH Mānoa was established in 1988. The graduate faculty of the PhD program comprises all members of the SLS faculty, as well as faculty members of the Departments of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Languages and Literatures of Europe and the Americas, and Linguistics.

The courses in the program are organized into four areas of specialization:

  1. Second language analysis—Structural analysis of learners’ language development; comparison of native and nonnative languages; second language varieties; differences arising from social and geographical contexts; phonological, grammatical, and discoursal properties; typological factors; putative universals.
  2. Second language learning—Studies of the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors in the language learning process; the role of universals; interlanguage; processes of comprehension and production.
  3. Second language use—Studies of social functions of second and foreign languages; pidgins, creoles, and dialect variation; roles of social and geographical contexts; pragmatics; discourse analysis; cross-cultural and interethnic communication; sociopolitical factors; language policy and planning.
  4. Second language pedagogy—Research into learners’ language needs (including immigrant needs); formulation of needs-based curriculum objectives and syllabi; taskbased and content-based language teaching; computer-aided instruction; program administration; evaluation and language assessment; critical pedagogy.

The basic requirement for admission into the PhD program is the completion of an MA in second language studies, applied linguistics, or second or foreign language education. Applicants with graduate degrees in related disciplines such as anthropology, education, modern languages, linguistics, and psychology are also welcome.

Entry into the PhD program is possible in both the fall and spring semesters. The GRE is required for all PhD program applicants. Most applicants whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. Additionally, those required to take the TOEFL or IELTS have the following minimum scores to work as a teaching graduate assistant (GA): 100 TOEFL iBT, with subtest scores 25 listening and 25 speaking; 7.0 IELTS.

Prospective PhD students are automatically considered for a graduate assistantship at the time of application. Each year, four years of guaranteed funding are offered to the four most qualified applicants to the PhD in SLS program, pending availability of funds.

Application materials are required for both the Graduate Division and the Department of Second Language Studies. For details about how to apply, go to:


Students work closely with their advisors and doctoral committees in defining their individualized programs. In order to establish a common core of expertise among students, specific courses are designated according to the background of each student. The basic preparation expected as part of PhD students’ MA training is at least one graduate-level course in each of the four areas of specialization. Beyond basic preparation, each doctoral student’s program must include a minimum of two graduate-level courses in three of the four areas of specialization and a minimum of two graduate-level courses in research methods for a total of 8 courses (24 credits). At least two seminars (700-level) are required.

Doctoral candidates must pass a comprehensive examination before the dissertation, and a final oral examination defending the dissertation.

Students must also document and reflect on substantial, diverse learning experiences in two languages other than their first language. This requirement is fulfilled by submitting a 3- to 5-page reflective essay during the first two years of study and before advancement to candidacy. Examples of substantial and diverse language learning experience include the following:

  • Attaining L2 competence for functioning successfully in an L2 academic context
  • Completing a primary, secondary, or higher education degree in a language other than the first language
  • Growing up with two or more languages
  • Teaching a language (or in a language) other than the first language
  • Engaging in research that involves the analysis of data in another language

For further information about the PhD program, see:

English Language Institute

College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore 570
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-6946
Fax: (808) 956-2802

The English Language Institute (ELI) is located in the Department of Second Language Studies. The ELI’s primary purpose is to provide English instruction for international and immigrant students or others, whose native language is not English, to facilitate their academic studies at UH Mānoa. The ELI program is only for students who have been admitted to UH Mānoa.

All potential ELI students admitted to UH Mānoa are referred to ELI to determine if they must take the ELI placement test before registering for UH Mānoa courses. If a student does not fulfill this obligation, ELI will place a hold on the student’s registration. The ELI placement test is generally offered two or three times at the beginning of each semester. Information about the testing dates and times can be found on the ELI website or the UH Mānoa registration homepage. Students can sign up for ELI placement tests online or in person at Moore 570 prior to the testing date.

ELI Exemptions

Students are exempt from taking the ELI placement test if they meet any of the following conditions: (a) the student is a native speaker of English; (b) the student has received a score of 100 or better on the internet-based TOEFL, a score of 250 or better on the computer-based TOEFL, or a score of 600 or better on the paper-based TOEFL (taken within the last 2 years); (c) the student has received a score of 7.0 or better on the IELTS (taken within the last 2 years); (d) the student has received a score of 151 or better on the critical reading section of the GRE; (e) the student has received a score of 560 or better on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing test (or if taken prior to 2016, a score of 540 or better on the critical reading section of the SAT); (f) the student has received a combined score of 48 on the reading and English sections of the ACT and neither subscore (reading or English sections) is lower than 21; (g) the student has received a score of 185 or better on Cambridge English scale tests (excluding Cambridge English “Business” tests); (h) the student has received a score of 125 or better on the Duolingo English Test; (i) graduate students who have received within the last five years a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree from an accredited/recognized college in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada (except Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, or Ireland; (j) the student has an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science/Natural Sciences degree from a community college within the UH System; (k) the student has obtained the equivalent of 60 transferable semester credits with a GPA of 2.0 or better, all earned in classroom settings at regionally accredited colleges or universities in the U.S., or from colleges or universities whose academic standing is recognized by UH Mānoa and where English is the primary language of instruction; or (l) the student has completed six years of full-time schooling with English as the medium of instruction at a middle school, high school, college, or university in Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Guam, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or the U.S. (including American Samoa) Documentation of all six years is required.

These exemption criteria apply at the time students are admitted to UH Mānoa. An exemption on the basis of one of these criteria may be automatically granted by UH Mānoa, or it may be granted by the ELI office if the student can provide the appropriate documentation, including official transcripts or test results.

Assignment to ELI Courses

All other potential ELI students who have been admitted to UH Mānoa must take the ELI placement test before they can register for courses. Placement into ELI courses or exemption from ELI courses will be based on the test results. Students pursuing online degrees should contact the ELI director for further information. All ELI courses must be completed within the first year of study at UH Mānoa. Students who do not complete ELI course work as planned may not be allowed to graduate.

Relationship to Other Course Work

ELI courses are equivalent to 3-credit courses when considering a student’s course load. Students placed into ELI courses need to reduce the number of additional credit courses they can take and should expect to make slower progress in their regular UH Mānoa studies. This is an especially important factor in some graduate programs and should be considered carefully by students whose time or financial support is limited.

Hawai‘i English Language Program

College of Arts, Languages & Letters
Moore Hall 586
1890 East-West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-6636
Fax: (808) 956-5100

The Hawai‘i English Language Program (HELP), located in the Department of SLS, is a noncredit, intensive academic English skills program for students who wish to improve their English language proficiency for academic, business, or professional pursuits. HELP offers a pathway into the UH System for students who need to sharpen their academic English skills before starting credit course work at UH Mānoa or in another American college or university. HELP students who complete two terms at the highest level may receive conditional admission to UH Mānoa without a TOEFL score, after which they may take the ELI placement exam to see if further English preparation is needed. HELP has four levels to meet the needs of students from beginning to advanced, and also offers individualized tutoring for clients needing specific language assistance. At the end of each regular term, HELP offers the TOEFL ITP test to all students; this test is accepted by all UH System campuses for validation of Academic English level for admission purposes.

HELP is also an ESL teacher training center and offers customized teacher training workshops to groups, as well as the globally recognized Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) certification course to individuals. Bespoke programs in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) in areas such as Business, Engineering, and Health Sciences can also be arranged through HELP’s Customized Programs specialists.

Admission to HELP is open to individuals 17 or older who have completed high school or its equivalent. There are four 8-week sessions each year beginning in January, March, August, and October. HELP also offers 6- and 4-week intensive summer programs in May and July, for a total of six start dates each year.

See for more information.