Curriculum Overview

As a unit within the world-renowned University of Hawai‘i Department of Second Language Studies, HELP offers the best academic English preparation for success in an American college/university setting.

Our curriculum teaches academic English skills through innovative courses. Our courses are developed based upon current research and best practices in the field. Because of the recognized high quality of our courses, students who successfully complete our curriculum may apply for conditional admission to the University of Hawaiʻi without an English proficiency test score.

Program Learning Outcomes

1. Effective Written Communications Skills
Students demonstrate the ability to write well-organized, well-developed, and well-supported paragraphs and essays of varying lengths and rhetorical styles at each level of the program.
2. Active Reading Skills
Students demonstrate the application of reading strategies to extract meaning and ideas from a variety of texts in different genres and at different levels of complexity as experienced at each level of the program.
3. Active Listening Skills
Students demonstrate the ability to apply listening strategies to comprehend, interpret, and respond to discourse that is either non-participative or participative in developing stages at each level of the program.
4. Effective Oral Communication Skills
Students produce spoken language to express themselves and their relationship with others and the world in a variety of activities, such as conversations, discussions, presentations and debates, each of which demands increasing fluency at each level of the program.
5. Grammar Competency
Students demonstrate a solid foundation in the form, meaning, and use of grammatical structures in speaking, reading, and writing.
6. Personal and Social Responsibility
Students demonstrate personal development in becoming autonomous lifelong learners who engage in self-assessment, critical thinking, ethical reflection, cooperative and collaborative teamwork, and participation in activities with the larger community both on and off campus.

4-Level Curriculum

Our 4-level Academic English curriculum accepts students of all levels – from those with very basic to very advanced English ability, and every level in-between. Placement in the appropriate English level ensures that every student can achieve success with our program.

Placement Tests

New students are given placement tests on orientation day.  Level placement is based upon the University of Michigan EPT (English Placement Test) scores, a writing sample, and a speaking test. Depending on their level, students take from two to four required core classes and zero to two electives at their level. The electives vary each term.

LevelDescriptionSample Core Classes
100BeginnerReading Foundation
Writing Foundation
Listening & Speaking
Basic Grammar
200IntermediateReading Proficiency
Writing Development
Grammar Development
Elective Course
300High-IntermediateReading Connections
Writing Expansion
Elective Courses (2)
400AdvancedAcademic Reading
Academic Writing
Elective Courses (2)

*Course offerings are subject to change

Class Schedule

Classes for each skill are not at fixed times each term, which provides students with a college-like schedule. Classes of 65-minutes each are held Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8:30am – 2:00pm (schedule subject to change based on enrollment). Fridays are reserved for co-curricular field trips and service-learning experiences as well as for teacher-led extra-curricular activities.

Most students study full-time for 20 hours per week with an F-1 student visa. Full-time students take four courses per term. Students who successfully complete their studies receive a certificate of completion.

Sample Class Schedule

Classes are held daily Monday – Thursday.

Extracurricular activities such as service learning projects or optional activities may be held after classes or on the weekends.

8:30-9:35amReading Foundations 1Writing Development 1Reading Connections 1Academic Reading 1
9:45-10:50amListening & Speaking 1Reading Proficiency 1Writing Expansion 1Academic Writing 1
11:00am-12:05pmWriting Foundation 1Grammar Development 1Listening  & Speaking 1American Culture through Film
12:55-2:00pmBasic Grammar 1Building TOEFL VocabularyTOEFL ListeningCultural Issues

*Class schedule subject to change

Class Sizes

With small class sizes of 6 to 16 students, HELP students have numerous opportunities to participate in class discussions, to ask questions, and to interact with classmates and instructors.

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100 Level          200 Level          300 Level          400 Level


Course Descriptions

● = Required Core Course

100 Level Courses

HELP 111LS Listening and Speaking 
In this class you will improve your speaking and listening skills and build your English vocabulary as you learn American culture and the language necessary to live in the USA. You will develop your ability to maintain conversations in English, talk about yourself and your interests, and ask questions of others.

HELP 131R Reading Foundations
This course provides a strong foundation in basic reading skills for new or beginning-level learners of English. Your reading fluency and comprehension will increase as you study and practice effective strategies, develop your vocabulary, and read many interesting stories and articles.

HELP 141W Writing Foundations
In this class you will learn the basics or foundations of writing. You will begin with writing simple, compound, and complex sentences. Then, you will use these kinds of sentences to write different kinds of paragraphs.

HELP 151G Basic Grammar
This course will help you to communicate in English by focusing on many of the most useful language and grammar points. You will learn and practice these grammar points by using all four skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

200 Level Courses

HELP 211LS Listening and Speaking
This course will help you increase your listening comprehension and speaking fluency in everyday situations by focusing on some essential grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation skills you need. You will also get an introduction to listening to short academic lectures and giving your own presentations.

HELP 213LS Social Issues
In this course you will increase your fluency in spoken English, build your vocabulary, and develop your ability to discuss and present in English by focusing on social issues. The course covers current social topics such as relationship and lifestyle choices, cyberbullying, the aging population, and the environment. We will learn about various social issues from perspectives around the world, and develop skills in expressing and supporting different opinions.

● HELP 231R Reading Proficiency
In this class, you will develop and increase your vocabulary and practice it by reading textbook passages about a variety of topics. The skills of prediction, the comprehension of main ideas and details, and the importance of inferences are all required. In addition, you will become familiar with parts of speech, prefixes, suffixes, and roots as aids in understanding new vocabulary.

HELP 231T Introduction to TOEFL Reading
This course will help you improve your reading level while you become familiar with the format of the reading section of the paper-based TOEFL exam.

● HELP 241W Writing Development
This course will help you develop well-structured sentences, and paragraphs. Then you will be introduced to different types of short essays: description, comparison, cause-effect, classification, and opinion. HELP 261T Introduction to TOEFL Listening This course will help you improve your grammar level while you become familiar with the format of the grammar section of the paper-based TOEFL exam.

300 Level Courses

HELP 311LS Listening and Speaking
This course will further develop your listening comprehension and speaking fluency in everyday situations by focusing on specific grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation skills necessary for higher proficiency. You will also listen to longer academic lectures and learn note-taking skills for better comprehension and recall. In addition, you will practice giving your own presentations.

● HELP 331R Reading Connections
In this course you will read authentic materials in a textbook with a variety of topics (Fall I & II) or with a focus on one subject (Spring I & II). In both cases, you will focus on developing the important reading skills of finding the main ideas and supporting details, distinguishing fact from opinion, and increasing academic vocabulary.

● HELP 341W Writing Expansion
This course is designed to build your skills in writing and revising for an academic audience. You will learn all the steps of the writing process – brainstorming and outlining, drafting, revising, and peer/self editing – as well as the conventions of standard academic-paper formatting. By the end of the course, you will be able to write short essays.

HELP 351T TOEFL Grammar
This course will help you improve your grammar level while you become familiar with the format of the grammar section of the paper-based TOEFL exam.

HELP 361M Film Studies
Through the medium of American films, you will apply and practice your English listening, speaking, and critical thinking skills in this course. The authentic language input found in movies will help you develop your listening comprehension skills. You will also improve your oral fluency by discussing the movies and performing various speaking tasks in class. In addition, you will be introduced to the field of film studies and learn how to critically analyze and critique a movie.

HELP 364T Intensive TOEFL Practice
In this intensive test preparation course, you will take weekly practice tests in each of the three sections of the ITP TOEFL – Listening, Structure and Reading. Each practice test will be followed by a discussion on the answers. One day each week will be devoted to the study of a particular skill or test-taking strategy.

400 Level Courses

HELP 431R Academic Reading
This course will help you improve your overall reading competency with a strong focus on academic reading skills and strategies. You will be exposed to authentic readings selected from a variety of disciplines, such as anthropology, business, or literature. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to read authentic texts in an efficient manner and comprehend them at a more in-depth level. The practice exercises and reading strategies introduced in this class will also enhance your test-taking confidence and help boost your TOEFL/TOEIC/IELTS Reading score.

HELP 441W Academic Writing
This class will focus on developing an academic paper through sequenced writing. After you choose a topic to research, you will write about and discuss your knowledge of the topic, locate appropriate sources online and in the library, summarize articles or other sources on your topic, and finally write a report that combines all of this information. You will also learn how to avoid plagiarism through the use of paraphrasing, quotation, and citation. Through this class you will improve your understanding of the research process and conventions of advanced academic writing.

HELP 451G Grammar through Fiction: Holes
Instead of just focusing on grammar as it is presented in charts in grammar books, this class looks at grammar as it is actually used in American writing and speaking to communicate ideas. In this course, you will learn advanced grammar by reading the novel Holes and watching the Holes movie. You will analyze the grammar from these real-life sources and then apply this knowledge to improve your own English skills.

HELP 453G Grammar A-Z
This class is designed to help you consolidate your knowledge and further explore the challenging yet interesting aspects of advanced English grammar. The most essential concepts in English grammar will be addressed in an interactive and collaborative way through a variety of tasks and exercises, such as sentence building, paraphrasing, syntax analysis, error identification, and discussion and presentation of grammar points. By the end of the course, you will possess a profound knowledge of English grammar and be able to use it competently for communicative as well as in academic purposes.

Grades & Assessments

HELP issues detailed grade reports for each term completed. Grade reports include percentage grade, letter grade, and completed service learning projects and hours.

Students will also receive a final assessment report from each of their teachers. The report will assess the student’s competency in each of the courses learning outcomes and overall level outcomes. Students can use the assessments to identify their strengths and weaknesses in specific English skill areas.

Students who successfully complete studies at HELP will receive a completion certificate indicating the total number of weeks completed.