Emphasis on rapid acquisition of practical proficiency


    Most students in intensive ESL programs (IEPs) are there to improve their English proficiency.  Other goals, such as academic skill development and cultural enrichment, are also important to many students, and cannot be slighted. However, English proficiency is the major consideration in most cases.

    It takes time to develop language proficiency. FOCAL SKILLS therefore regards accelerated language acquisition as its highest priority. Cultural studies, academic skill development, and other goals involving the use of language will be more successful after students have acquired good functional use of the English language.

    Research indicates that students in FOCAL SKILLS programs acquire English language proficiency faster than students in most other types of IEP.  A number of studies have found that FOCAL SKILLS students gain about 35% more English ability in a semester than other IEP students.

    We attribute the FOCAL SKILLS advantage to a number of factors, which are discussed in the following sections.

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