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Life Changing Work on BYU Campus

Why would students from Mexico, Korea, Ukraine, Cote d’Ivoire, China and elsewhere come to BYU?

BYU English Language Center

Brigham Young University has one of the top foreign language study programs in the United States. Students on BYU campus speak about 120 languages making it around 60% of campus that speak a second language.1 Many students on campus are aware of these stunning statistics and many students may even have the experience of learning a second language, but do they realize BYU’s language schooling doesn’t end there? BYU has an additional language school that is specifically for foreign students wanting to come to America to learn English. Whether Americans are aware of it or not, America is a land of opportunity and to go to an American university is seen as a great asset in other countries around the world. BYU foreign students know that coming to an American university opens new doors of opportunity for them and their families, but how is this accomplished when BYU classes are all spoken in English? Is it easy for these students to learn a language? Learning a language has many ups and downs and often takes time and dedication to reach a university appropriate level in a second language. To make sure foreign students are ready to enter BYU, these students are required to pass an English exam proving that they can communicate and function in a university using English. But what about students that can’t pass the exams coming right out of their countries, are they not given the opportunity to continue their education in America?

BYU not only provides education for foreign languages, but it is also a learning center for foreign students coming to BYU so they have the opportunity to learn English in an immersive environment. Many students attending BYU do not realize that where they park their cars for a well-attended football game may be in the same parking lot that houses the English Language Center (ELC), located on the very north end of campus next to the BYU football stadium.


The English Language Center (ELC) has 3 main goals: to provide opportunities for BYU students to apply skills in teaching English as a second language, provide ELC students with high quality English learning, and to be a school of research and learning to better benefit BYU and other educators and learners.2 The ELC provides an immersive English learning environment for foreign students, and additionally creates a learning space where BYU students are allowed to watch and practice real-life teaching on BYU campus.


BYU students have the opportunity to minor in or pursue an Master’s degree (MA) in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). This includes classes that are geared towards understanding what it is like to learn a language, learning how to appropriately lesson plan and discern students’ needs in the classroom, along with necessary skills in being an effective teacher of English to foreign students. The minor and MA both have opportunities to have hands-on experience and teach classes at the ELC, which creates an safe environment for students to gain experience and try out classroom-based theories and practices with real situations and immediate feedback from other mentors and teachers at the ELC.


ELC students have a different opportunity at the ELC. For them the ELC is a school they choose to be at that provides quality education helping them achieve their future hopes and dreams. Many of the ELC students are from different countries and backgrounds coming to learn English in the United States for various reasons. In large, many of the ELC students come for two reasons: to stay in America for a better career or to have a good education in America and take it back to their home country to benefit their family and people. It is not easy to go to school in another country and in a different language, but for various reasons the students at the ELC battle time zone changes, money constraints, culture changes, environment changes, family separation, and other outside pressures just to be at the ELC. They sacrifice so much for their education and exemplify true learning at the ELC.

BYU English Language Center Classroom


In addition to creating a learning environment, the ELC is a center of research for implementing new teaching methods and learning strategies. The research implemented at the ELC continues to be published and is a great asset to learning how to be better teachers of and learners of a second language which helps BYU continue to roll forward in its goal to inspire learning for eternity.3 There is always more to be learned and understood and the ELC is a controlled environment that allows for research to provide further insight into the educated world.


Throughout it all, the BYU English Language Center remains to be a wonderful asset to BYU campus. The ELC serves as a steppingstone for new TESOL teachers as well as incoming foreign students seeking for an immersive learning environment to benefit their learning, and it also provides a controlled research environment to help us better understand how to best help language learners in the present and future.

1“Facts & Figures.” BYU Home Site. Accessed March 12, 2024.,percent%20speak%20a%20second%20language.

2“ELC Mission Statement.” English Language Center (ELC). Accessed March 12, 2024.

3Education for Eternity 1967 Spencer W. Kimball’s Address