A group of people stand outside of a Habitat for Humanity house

June 25, 2024

SIU’s Center for English as a Second Language celebrates 60 years

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For 60 years, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) — the third oldest intensive English program on a university campus — has helped an estimated 30,000 international students from about 100 countries acclimate to the region and prepare to earn their degrees.

Lilia Angel-Post, CESL assistant director, said that only about 15% of U.S. universities have an intensive English program, and about half are accredited. CESL averages about 100 students from around 20 countries per semester.

“CESL helps bring the world to our Southern Illinois community,” she said. “This allows members of our community the opportunity to interact with people from countries they might never get the chance to visit. In addition, these international students and scholars value who we are as they chose our university and our town over the thousands of options available to them. These interactions between the local and global community are an enriching experience for all.”

Media availability 

Journalists are welcome to cover SIU’s Center for English as a Second Language’s 60th anniversary celebration on Thursday, June 27, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. The invitation-only event will feature a “living library” with CESL students talking to community members, a mini-cultural show and international cuisine. Speakers include Carbondale Mayor Carolin Harvey; Joddy Murray, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and more. To arrange for interviews with students and officials, contact William Hellriegel, CESL director, at 618-453-6538 or william.hellriegel@siu.edu, or Lilia Angel-Post, CESL assistant director, at 618-453-6470 or langel@siu.edu.

CESL’s offerings include:

  • An eight-week intensive English program curriculum that is academic preparation-focused and prepares students rigorously for success in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
  • An innovative community engagement program that benefits local residents and organizations, as well as international students.
  • A large amount of international English teacher training.

CESL can customize programs to make a large variety of language needs, Angel-Post said. She added that CESL has contributed to campus diversity for six decades and “prioritizes engagement through immersion,” which includes students actively attending campus and community events.

“We provide prompt and excellent service, keep costs as low as possible, and are innovative and flexible in our programming,” said William Hellriegel, CESL director, noting the program’s “prestigious reputation.”

CESL’s history began in 1964 when a private language training firm opened an intensive English institute on campus. SIU took over operations in 1966.