Academic English Preparation Program

Program Description

The Academic English Preparation (AEP) Program prepares students to successfully study in a university in the USA. The AEP focuses on the language of the classroom. The AEP is comprised of four foundational courses which are requirements for all students. Academic Reading, Academic Writing, Academic Listening, and Academic Speaking are the cornerstone of our program. While these skills are taught in an integrated manner, the specific focus of the skills allows students to receive individualized attention on those areas that are the greatest need. Additionally, students must choose one elective course, but they may choose up to three elective courses. The elective courses are frequently changing, and students’ individual levels of English proficiency determine, to some extent, which courses they are eligible to take. See the course descriptions below for more information about the courses we offer.

Program Outcome

Upon successful completion of the AEP, students will:

  • Comprehensively read academic texts.
  • Write essays that adhere to the expected rhetorical and grammatical structures of academic English writing.
  • Listen to a lecture and take notes.
  • Engage in class discussions and give formal presentations on academic topics.
  • Overall score of 79 on the TOEFL iBT or 90 on the COMPASS ESL.

Admission Requirements

Students must meet all admission requirements for study at BHSU (please go to www.bhsu.edu/international)

Minimum English Proficiency Requirements:

  • IELTS score 4.5
  • TOEFL iBT score 45
  • TOEIC score 450
  • Pearson PTE Academic score 30 
  • Cambridge PET

 

Program Completion Requirements

Graduation from the AEP requires commitment to course attendance and satisfactory completion of all coursework and exams.  Additionally, the Internet-Based TOEFL test (iBT) will be administered to all students who enroll in the AEP.  Students who score an overall 79 on the TOEFL iBT, which is equivalent to a 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL, will be eligible for admission to Black Hills State University to take undergraduate course work.  Graduates of the AEP who score less than 79 on the iBT will be required to repeat one or more sections of the AEP.

In determining AEP graduation, scores of the individual sections of the TOEFL iBT will be examined as well as the overall score.  Graduation from the AEP requires the following minimum scores:

  • Reading 20
  • Writing 20
  • Speaking 20
  • Listening 19  

Program Costs

AEP Program cost for one (1) hour of classroom instruction for 16 weeks is $301.70. The AEP program includes 22 classroom hours of instruction each week (352 hours of instruction each semester), therefore, one semester before applicable program discounts is $6,637.40. However, several discounts are available to reduce the program costs for full time students.  Discount programs include:

  • The affiliate institution and organization discount
  • The group application discount
  • The cultural ambassador program discount. 
All interested applicants are encouraged to contact the Office of International Studies for discounted program pricing.  

Program Dates and Times


  • Spring 2014 AEP Program:  January 13, 2014 to May 9, 2014
  • Spring 2014 Short-Term Winter Program:  January 13, 2014 to February 14, 2014
  • Fall 2014 AEP Program: August 25, 2014 to December 17, 2014

Course Descriptions

Academic Reading in an American Culture: 4 hours/week Required
This course will help students to improve their reading skills and vocabulary knowledge. Students will develop the skills needed to read and understand a variety of texts. They will also learn techniques and strategies to better understand new vocabulary. This course will also increase students’ awareness of specific grammatical structures frequently found in academic texts.

Academic Writing in an American Culture: 4 hours/week Required

This course will teach students how to engage in the academic writing process. It will focus on developing students’ awareness of the logical discourse structure of written academic English. Students will learn to write texts which adhere to the expected rhetorical styles of Academic English. This course will also train students to write with grammatical structures which are necessary for academic English writing.

Academic Listening in an American Culture: 4 hours/week Required
This course will teach students how to listen to academic discussions and lectures. Students will be presented with a variety of auditory information. They will learn how to take notes on class lectures. They will be able to identify the organizational structure of a lecture. Students will also be trained to understand technical vocabulary as well as idiomatic phraseology which are frequently used in academic circles.

Academic Speaking in an American Culture: 4 hours/week Required
This course will instruct students in giving group and individual presentations. Students will also learn to express opinions, and the necessity of sharing a point of view in American academic circles. Students will engage in group discussions and debates about academic topics.

TOEFL Preparation: 2 hours/week Required
This course trains students to take the Internet-based TOEFL exam. It gives students practical tips on test-taking strategies as well as exercises that mirror the different parts of the exam. Students will take a minimum of three practice TOEFL exams during this course.

American Cultural Studies: 2 hours/week Required
This course introduces the concepts of culture and intercultural communication. It presents students with core US American values and relates these to important historical events and people. Students actively engage in analyzing, comparing, and contrasting their culture and history with that of the United States. Studies of US American Culture is taught in an interdisciplinary manner. The four language skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening are integrated in each lesson. Students actively engage in a variety of activities and outings, sharing their insights, stresses, and outlooks of the American culture. Students analyze the content and then present to their peers information about what they have learned through the context of their cultures. There is an additional $100 fee for this course to cover field trip transportation charges.

Accent Development: 2 hours/week Elective
This course focuses on pronunciation skills and the development of a comprehensible accent when speaking English. It teaches the International Phonetic Alphabet, production of specific segments, as well as the suprasegmental features of English. This is an active course in which students spend the majority of the class time speaking English.

Writing Workshop: 2 hours/week Elective
This course will focus on applying the grammar of the English language to writing sentences and paragraphs. This course will be required for some students based on their proficiency level at time of entrance into the program.

Business English: 2 hours/week Elective

This course is for students already at a high-intermediate to advanced level of English proficiency. It will focus on developing specific skills for business English.

Current Events: 2 hours/week Elective

This course uses what is happening in the world at the time of the course offering as a vehicle of language learning. Students interact with media on a local, national, and international level. They read and listen to news stories from sources like the Economist or NPR to gain information about current events. Then, students interact with the information in discussions and writings to discuss the implications of the events on both a local and global scale. Additionally, students in this course may visit with news reporters from either broadcast or print journalism.