This virtual help desk is designed to help ESL students and their instructors at Washington State University. What is ESL?  ESL stands for 'English as a second language', but 'second' here is used just to mean not first or not native language. 

What is an ESL Student? ESL student in this context means any student who does not have English as his or her native language. 

Why an ESL Help Desk? ESL students face all the challenges that any other student at WSU faces PLUS the problems raised by working in a second language.  Many ESL students, moreover, are far from their homes; they are often from cultures with very different customs and expectations and have been educated in very different school systems.  ESL students, besides having the typical adaptations to make to the university, must deal with language, culture, and education differences.  We want to provide information, advice, and support to these students and to the faculty who have ESL students in their classes and as their advisees. 

Who runs this site? I am Lynn Gordon, linguist and associate professor in the English Department; I manage this site with the assistance of all the people who teach ESL here at WSU. I am available by e-mail at or by telephone at (509) 335-2117.   Check out my individual Web page at

What's New?

  • In every ESL class, we are asking each student to fill out a student information form.rin
    g thstudent's AML orientation.
  • The course syllabi and blogs for English 104, 303, 403 for the Spring semester of  2009 are available on the Student Services Page
  • To enroll in ANY freshman-level English course (101, 100, 104, 105), students must take the Writing Placement Exam. This is university policy. There are NO exceptions to this policy. This is a requirement for students who MUST take a freshman level class (e.g., those earning a degree here) and those who merely WANT to take a freshman level class (e.g., those -- such as exchange students -- who enroll for personal enrichment).
    • Early enrollment is encouraged in all ESL classes. Students should NOT wait until the last minute to try to enroll. Space is very limited. Once a student has a placement from the Writing Placement test, he/she should be able to enroll via the METRO
    • Exchange students, graduate students, international faculty, and international postdocs are welcome to enroll in our classes. Nevertheless, they must also take the Writing Placment test. They also need to understand that if a class becomes impacted, they will be asked to drop since priority is ALWAYS given to degree-seeking undergraduates. In most cases, the ESL Program can arrange an alternative.
  • To enroll in English 403, you MUST:
    • Be an undergraduate who is planning to get a degree at WSU.  If you are a graduate student or an exchange student, enroll in English 303.
    • Be a bilingual or a speaker of English as a second language. 
    • Have completely submitted the portfolio (including the three signed papers and the timed writing).  If you haven't done this, and can't do this before the first day of class, you should not enroll in English 403.  Please read   for more information on the portfolio.
    • Have received your results on the portfolio by the first day of class.  If you are awaiting results, please contact the Writing Portfolio Office in CUE 305  for more information.
    • Have arranged to take any "needs work" from the portfolio.  If the assessment on your portfolio was "needs work", you must have taken any needs work before the first day of class -- or be concurrently enrolled. 
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Disclaimer|Copyright©2008 Lynn Gordon
This page was last updated 2 January 2009.
Comments and questions: Lynn Gordon at