Welcome to the MHC ESOL Program !

The ESOL Program supports MHC students who do not consider themselves native English speakers (and a whole variety of other students who have interesting and complex relationships with academic English). Support options include courses, workshops, and 1-1 meetings.

Need help? Not sure if ESOL is right for you? email the ESOL Director, Mark Shea, at or sign up through Pathways with the button below.

Check the Resources page for strategies and tips for developing academic language!

What is ESOL?

The acronym “ESOL” stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. That’s another way to say: “people who don’t consider English their first language.” One of the reasons these terms are kind of long and confusing is that people have complex relationships with language and it’s hard to find a single word or phrase that can cover it all. So terms like native speaker, mother tongue, first language, or home language might work for some people but not others.

For languages that we know well, or feel very comfortable with, we often have strong intuitions about them. Certain phrases “feel right;” we know “the right way” to say something. Our intuitions usually aren’t as strong in our second language. When intuition isn’t helpful, we can use explanations, patterns, and strategies instead. Imagine getting each of these comments on a paper:

  1. This sentence feels awkward
  2. This sentence has too many words before the subject, so it’s hard to read

The difference between (1) and (2) is the difference between intuition and explanation. The ESOL Program offers resources to make the structures and culture of academic English explicit.