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English as a Second Language


ESL Mission

The mission of the Mount St. Mary’s Seminary ESL Program is to provide English language instruction for students preparing for ordination through the Seminary’s Master of Divinity, Master of Arts (Theology), or S.T.B. degree programs and for students in ongoing pastoral formation. Through the program’s instruction in writing, grammar, pronunciation, speaking, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and United States culture, students will develop English language communication skills effective not only in academic settings but also in preparation for pastoral ministry.


ESL Program Objectives

Throughout the course of English language instruction, students will:

  • improve speech clarity through the study and practice of the sounds and rhythm patterns of North American English;

  • develop writing skills;

  • increase command of English grammar both through traditional rule-based methods and in the context of writing;

  • continue to develop theological and academic vocabulary;

  • increase comprehension in reading and listening.

Peer Tutoring, class notes, reading support, and test preparation skill development available

ESL Curriculum

The ESL program at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary offers individualized English instruction that focuses on each seminarian’s particular language needs. Class sizes are very small, with most instruction delivered in one-on-one student/instructor classes. Additionally, our state-of-the-art language lab helps seminarians master the pronunciation and listening comprehension skills integral for ministerial success.

English classes are offered in conjunction with Seminary classes and follow the Seminary academic calendar.

Based on diagnostic placement exams, students may be placed in one of three levels of the following classes: Writing, Grammar, Reading, Vocabulary, Pronunciation, and Listening Comprehension. Depending on individual needs, students may also be placed in a course on U.S. Culture and/or may be assigned a peer conversation partner.

We also offer instructor led academic support tutorials where students receive class notes, reading support, vocabulary development, and learn test preparation skills to help them succeed in their courses.

ESL Course Descriptions

Beginning Writing
Students will develop the skills to write a variety of types of well organized, coherent, and grammatically correct paragraphs. Emphasizing the process approach to writing, this course lays the foundation for future academic writing in ESL and theology classes. The grammar focus is on writing simple and compound sentences; the mechanics focus is on applying basic rules of capitalization and punctuation.

Intermediate Writing
Students will develop the skills to write a variety of types of well organized, coherent, and grammatically correct essays. Emphasizing the process approach to writing, students will develop writing skills in preparation for pastoral work, future academic writing in ESL, and/or future theology classes. The grammar focus is on writing complex and compound-complex sentences; the mechanics focus is on applying punctuation rules for commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, ellipses, and quotation marks.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Writing.

Advanced Writing
Students will develop the skills necessary to undertake academic research and to write a well organized, coherent, and grammatically correct research paper. Emphasis is on the process approach to writing as students develop a thesis, create an annotated bibliography, develop an outline/mind-map, and write multiple drafts.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Writing.

Writing for Theology
Students will develop the skills necessary to undertake academic research and to write various genres of papers required in their philosophy and/or theology classes. Emphasis is on the process approach to writing as students develop theses, create bibliographies, develop outlines, and write multiple drafts of their general research, exegesis, textual analysis, books review, and/or Master’s thesis papers. Errors in students’ papers will be used to reinforce grammar and mechanics rules.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Advanced Writing.

Beginning Grammar
Students will develop English language skills by learning the function and structure of the parts of speech, verb forms, the simple tenses, subject/verb agreement, beginning level noun, pronoun, adjective and adverb forms, coordinating conjunctions, and basic article and preposition use.

Intermediate Grammar
Students will develop English language skills by learning the function and structure of irregular and phrasal verbs, perfect tenses, modals, passive voice, question forms, intermediate-level gerund and infinitive forms,  intermediate-level noun, adjective and adverb clauses, and intermediate-level article and preposition use. Students will learn to apply the grammar rules covered in class to their writing and speaking.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Grammar.

Advanced Grammar
Students will develop English language skills by learning conditionals, pronoun antecedent forms, preposition combinations, and use of advanced-level modals, passive forms, and adjective and adverb clauses. Students will apply grammar rules covered in class to speak informally, to write essays and homilies, and to write from a single point of focus.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Grammar.

Beginning Reading
Students will apply reading strategies such as pre-reading, questioning, recalling, relating, and reviewing to increase reading comprehension. Using multiple examples from beginner-level ESL texts, students will develop the skills of determining the main idea, predicting text sequence and word meaning, and inferring basic ideas, as well as be introduced to basic note taking. Students will also summarize and paraphrase a text both orally and in writing. This is a foundational course for future academic reading in ESL and theology classes, as well as for the catechetical and theological readings one will encounter in pastoral ministry. 

Intermediate Reading
Students will continue to use the strategies and develop the skills introduced in Beginning Reading, applying them to intermediate-level ESL texts and native English texts. Further, students will develop the skills necessary to analyze relationships among ideas in written material, draw conclusions, recognize a writer’s explicit or implicit purpose, and evaluate information. Students will react to readings orally and in written paragraphs.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Reading.

Advanced Reading
Students will apply reading strategies and continue to develop and practice the skills that will help them to comprehend, interact with, and react to advanced-level ESL texts, seminary theology texts, and the catechetical and theological readings they will encounter in pastoral ministry. Students will continue to use skills introduced in Intermediate Reading and will be required to react to readings orally and in written paragraphs and essays.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Reading.

Beginning Vocabulary
Students will learn 20 beginning-level academic and social words/phrases each week. This includes learning the words’ designated forms (parts of speech), their multiple meanings, and various collocations.  Students will demonstrate their understanding of new words/phrases by using them orally and in writing in a variety of academic and social contexts.

Intermediate Vocabulary
Students will learn 30 intermediate-level academic, social, and theological words each week. This includes learning the words’ designated forms (parts of speech), their multiple meanings, and various collocations. Students will demonstrate their understanding of new words/phrases by using them orally and in writing in a variety of academic, social, and pastoral contexts.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Vocabulary.

Advanced Vocabulary
Students will learn 30 advanced-level academic, social, and theological words each week. This includes learning the words’ designated forms (parts of speech), their multiple meanings, and various collocations. Students will demonstrate their understanding of new words/phrases by using them orally and in writing in a variety of academic, social, and pastoral contexts.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Vocabulary.

Vocabulary for Theology
Students will generate a list of 10 high frequency academic/theological words or idiomatic phrases each week. They will learn the words’ designated forms (parts of speech), their multiple meanings, and various collocations. Additionally, students will identify root words and the meaning of prefixes and suffixes. Students will demonstrate their understanding of new words/phrases by incorporating learned vocabulary into written assignments for their theology classes as well as orally into their conversation.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Advanced Vocabulary.

Beginning Pronunciation
Students will recognize and produce North American English consonant and vowel sounds. They will also recognize and produce the stressed syllable in two and three syllable words, the stressed word in a phrase, as well as apply basic intonation patterns to short questions and statements. Applying learned rules, students will accurately read aloud sentences and short Biblical passages.

Intermediate Pronunciation
In addition to being able to produce the consonant and vowel sounds introduced in Beginning Pronunciation, students will produce diphthongs, predict pronunciation based on spelling, predict stress of multisyllabic words and focus words, incorporate basic intonation patterns in various contexts, and apply basic pitch patterns to convey meaning. Applying learned rules, students will accurately read aloud a lectionary reading, Gospel reading, and/or homily.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Pronunciation.

Advanced Pronunciation
Students will examine word stress patterns not covered at the intermediate level. They will separate ideas into thought groups, use appropriate intonation and the four levels of English pitch, and apply the stress-timed rhythm of North American English to their public and conversational speech. By applying learned rules and developing public speaking skills, students will accurately read aloud from the lectionary, proclaim the Gospel, and/or deliver a homily.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Pronunciation.

Beginning Listening Comprehension
While listening to recorded and conversational beginning-level speech, students will recognize various forms of numbers and recognize and respond to yes/no questions, wh- questions, and reduced forms in greetings, short words, and phrases. They will also develop the skills to differentiate main ideas and details as well as begin to develop basic note taking skills. 

Intermediate Listening Comprehension
While listening to intermediate-level lectures and conversations, students will identify the topic, main ideas, purpose, supporting ideas, and details, as well as make inferences based on content and a speaker’s tone of voice. Students will identify the basic organization of sample lectures and write notes accordingly.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Beginning Listening Comprehension.

Advanced Listening Comprehension
While listening to advanced-level lectures, students will develop more sophisticated listening skills such as differentiating important information from tangential information, predicting lecture content, and evaluating which information should be recorded in note form.  They will write notes using various formats and organize information to show the relationship of ideas. This course will prepare students for listening to lectures and taking notes in philosophy and theology classes.
Prerequisite: Placement testing or successful completion of Intermediate Listening Comprehension.

Academic Support for Theology
Students will be provided content-based instruction focusing on individual theology courses. They will summarize theology course readings and lectures, discussing and answering questions about course content orally and in writing. Through this, they will develop the content knowledge and English proficiency necessary to succeed in their theology courses.

Peer Tutoring I
Students will be assigned a native English speaking conversation partner. They will converse informally and write about designated aspects of United States culture, including values, family life, social relationships, the education system, religious institutions, political structure and activities, ethnicity and race, music, art, dress, cuisine, and holidays. They will also share information orally about their own culture, comparing it to United States culture.

Peer Tutoring II
Students will be assigned a native English speaking conversation partner. They will converse informally and write about aspects of United States culture introduced in United States Culture 093.
Note: Taken in conjunction with United States Culture.

United States Culture
Students will expand their knowledge of United States culture by learning the cultural historical processes from which United States cultural values have emerged as well as how they are expressed in contemporary times.
Note: Taken in conjunction with Peer Tutoring II.

 
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