Education Agents



Harold Washington College

English Language Learning/World Languages Department
Chicago, Illinois USA



School Introduction

HWC was founded in 1962 as Loop College to serve the city’s business community while offering a broad spectrum of courses, two-year degrees, and certificate programs. In 1987, the college’s name was changed to commemorate Chicago’s late mayor Harold Washington. Our eleven story high rise campus in the center of downtown Chicago is only three blocks from beautiful Lake Michigan; it houses over 7000 full and part-time students, enrolled in day and evening programs each semester.

The city of Chicago is a world center for transportation, business, industry, and higher education. It is well known for its distinctive architecture, museums, and magnificent lakefront. Chicago’s metropolitan area has a population of more than 8 million people and displays a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds.

HWC offers various ethnic and cultural clubs where students meet and exchange information. Each semester our Global Friendship Club sponsors an International Festival where the entire college community is invited to sample traditional foods and enjoy performances of music and dancing from around the world.

ESL Program Introduction

The ELL program is part of the ELL/World Languages Department. We offer three levels of ESL Integrated English classes that focus on reading, writing and grammar as well as three levels of speaking and listening classes. In addition, the department offers Speech 143/Pronunciation, Social Science 101, Art Appreciation 101 and Humanities 107/Pop Culture. Our newest class is Reading 99, which can be taken simultaneously as ESL Integrated 99. All of these with the exception of the social science course are taught by faculty in our department. Most students in our program enroll in the college as full-time students, and many start taking select regular college-level classes as they prepare to enter English 101. While most classes in the college catalogue are not open to students until they graduate from our program, there are certain math, art, science and business classes that students can take while they are taking their ESL classes.

The student population in ESL classes is diverse in every imaginable aspect. About 30% of the students enroll as international students on I20 Visas, on au pair visas, international work visas, spousal visas etc., while 70% are legal residents or US citizens. Students in ESL classes represent 55 or more countries in any given semester and their time in the US can be as little as one day to thirty years. The age of our students ranges from 18 to 60, and students come to class with a variety of purposes. Though most students come with the intention of completing a degree or certificate program, others come for one semester for personal enhancement. Students also present a variety of strengths and individual challenges.

The educational experience of our students varies greatly. For the vast majority of our students, they are the first member of the family to attend college. Students may be recent graduates of Chicago Public Schools or other local high schools while others may have been in the work force for many years. There is also a large number who have received advanced degrees from their home countries and are in the process of transferring to graduate level programs in the US. We also host a number of students who are refugees and require emotional, as well as, academic support.

Because our institutional role is to prepare students for college courses taught in English by English speaking professors, our focus is on academic English. Our program teaches English for Academic Purposes. Thus, our approach to ESL demands that we expose students to themes and materials that include academic language and academic content. Though each teacher incorporates a number of traditional language teaching methods when appropriate, the overall approach or philosophy of the program is content based and project oriented. We aspire to constructivist pedagogy where active learning and ongoing assessment are part of everything we do.

In addition to the academic side, we organize monthly events for our students. Some standard activities are the Chocolate Party, ice skating, bowling, and bike riding. Students have also participated in supplemental field trips to local museums. The purpose of these trips is the development of community for students new to Chicago and new to the college experience. These trips allow students to create their own support groups by making connections across classes and cultures that have the potential to last throughout their college experience.

Background Data

Schedule & Fees

Tuition Information

Fall Semester August-December (16 Weeks)
Spring Semester January-May (16 Weeks)

Full time for Fall and Spring Semesters is 12 credit hours
Full time tuition for international students is charged by the number of credit hours the student chooses.
Average full time international tuition at Harold Washington College is $4500 per semester.

Summer Session June-July (8 Weeks)
Full time status for summer session is 6 credit hours

Special Courses & Features

Contact Info

English Language Learning/World Languages Department
Harold Washington College
30 East Lake Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601

1-312- 553-5878