Language Institute - English as a Second Language (ESL) | Georgia Tech Professional Education | Atlanta, GA

Specific Purposes Track

The Specific Purposes Track offers high intermediate to advanced learners a wide variety of courses, each focused on a particular skill or topic. Courses in this track include test preparation classes for the TOEFL or GRE, writing classes on blogging or creative writing, culture classes like Cross-cultural Communication, American Movies, American Literature, or courses focused on business like Business Case Analysis or Team Leadership.


Level 500 Level 600 Level 700
Upper Intermediate Advanced Upper Advanced

Courses are listed in alphabetical Order. Click on each course to learn more.

Daily Schedule

All classes are offered between the hours of 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Your exact schedule will depend on your level. Full-time students (4 courses) should plan to be on-campus for approximately 5 hours each day.

A computer lab is open to students for several hours per day.


Core Curriculum

Admissions 101

In this course, learners will develop an understanding of how U.S. cultural values influence and determine the structure, curriculum, and approaches generally used in public education.  They will develop an understanding of what a U.S. high school graduate is expected to know. They will also develop an understanding of the academic experiences U.S. college students pursuing bachelor’s and graduate degrees are likely to have.  Learners will investigate the undergraduate or graduate admission process for schools that they might like to attend, and they will begin and/or continue participating in the admission process by engaging in various tasks like creating a timeline for completing their admissions requirements, locating and completing applications, writing e-mails requesting recommendations or additional information, and writing essays or statements of purpose.

TOEFL Preparation Plus

This is a course designed to prepare students for the IBT TOEFL exam. There will be an overview of all skills, question types and ample opportunities to practice each skill area. Tips and strategies will also be examined for each skill area. 

Advanced Grammar 2

In this course, you will review and improve your ability to use complex grammar structures in English, including sentence patterns, contextually-appropriate pronoun use, adverb placement, adjective and noun clauses, parallel structure, phrasal modifiers, subjunctive forms, and conditionals. You will learn to identify the differences between the tone of written/academic (formal) and spoken/non-academic (informal) forms of English. You will have extensive practice using these in both written and spoken assignments.

American Literature

In this course, you will enhance your understanding of U.S. culture by reading samples of classic and contemporary North American short stories, poems, plays, and novel excerpts.  You will develop your ability to read, discuss, and analyze the settings, plots, and characters of various works while identifying the use of literary terms and devices.  By independently and conscientiously completing at least three hours of weekly reading and vocabulary homework, you will increase both your active and passive vocabulary that may be encountered on standardized tests, in university classes, and in casual conversations.  You will also see how some works of famous American literature have been brought to life on TV, in films, and on the stage.

American Movies

In this course, you will look at the American contribution to several film genres.  You will start by learning several of the essential elements of film, and then you’ll move on to a close consideration of four film genres.  At the end of the class, you and members of your group will remake a scene from a movie to interpret how a particular film uses the elements of a particular genre.

Blogging for a World Audience

In this blogging course, you will experiment with sharing your unique vision by writing expressively for your classmates and an internet audience. You will have the opportunity to communicate your views in English as you build a blog based on the mission statement of your own making. In addition to developing a guiding metaphor (a picture or photo that reinforces your mission statement), you will learn basic blogging skills such as linking to resources, uploading photos, monitoring statistics, and selecting suitable colors and images for the overall blog design. You will be expected to read and comment on each other’s blogs, perform your work orally, and possibly record and post your audio or video recordings.

Business Case Analysis

In this course, you will focus on the case method for business.  You will learn the five steps in case analysis and learn how to analyze a case individually and in your learning teams.  You will also develop the ability to continually initiate on case analysis, learn the process of design thinking, and complete a prototype of a design in a competitive classroom. As much of the work in this course is group work, you will be expected to participate actively in your group not just by showing up but contributing in real and tangible ways. 

Communication Skills through Online Gaming

This online gaming course is designed to help you develop various aspects of your communication ability in English while enjoying an exciting and entertaining gaming experience. This course targets all four communication skills using the content provided by the popular, free-to-download League of Legends gaming software.   The course targets the four skills in the following manner: for reading through reading comprehension, vocabulary learning, and register awareness (the League of Legends lore is replete with literary elements and register-specific discourse features; in writing you will improve your ability to  summarize describe, and paraphrase; in speaking develops student’s critical thinking skills as students discuss gaming strategies as well as social issues relating video-gaming with violence and addiction; and in listening comprehension, you will listen to tutorial instructions and take part in real-time game play against their peers.

Cross-Cultural Communication

This courses will introduce several theories and frameworks that learners can use to understand and improve their communication with people from cultures different than their own. Learners will engage in practical, hands-on application of techniques and strategies to develop their confidence and abilities when participating in intercultural exchanges.

Current Events

Are you interested in what’s going on locally, domestically, globally? If you are, this class will help you to improve all your language skills—reading, speaking, listening, and writing—by concentrating on one or more current topics, including ones selected by you and your classmates. You will read newspaper and magazine stories on these topics, listen to and watch news reports, and visit web sites.  You will keep a personal blog on the topics that will be used to guide classroom discussion and your projects.  As part of the course, you will also learn how to interview and report news events (video), as well as write opinion columns, reviews and feature articles (newsletter). Throughout the course, you will work on editing the news videos you record and, at the end of the course, we will select your best videos and post them onto the Language Institute’s official YouTube channel.

English for Environmental Studies   

In this course you will learn about topics in environmental sustainability including transportation, energy, recycling and reuse, water and land use and on how organizations in Atlanta are responding to these environmental challenges. In addition to studying about both environmental issues and initiatives, you will hear guest speakers from GA Tech and local environmental organizations and participate in a volunteer event. Organizations could include: Atlanta Beltline, Atlanta Clean and Beautiful, Chattahoochee River Keeper, GA Conservancy, GA Tech Green Buzz, Trees Atlanta.   

GRE Writing Plus

In this course, you will develop writing knowledge, skills, and strategies that are essential for improving your performance in both sections of the Analytical Writing section of the GRE.  You will also develop critical thinking and reasoning skills and strategies that are the necessary starting point for being able to produce written texts like those required by the GRE.  You will develop the following abilities:  analyze writing prompts; identify potential writing positions within those prompts; strategically select the writing position that best suits your own knowledge base and the time constraints of the task; quickly plan an essay that includes specific, and well thought out examples and details; compose a four paragraph essay that is designed to allow writers to demonstrate all of the skills required by the GRE; and evaluate essays in relation to GRE criteria. 

Leadership by Design/Team Leadership

In this course, you will focus on three areas: project management, leadership skills and training and team building.  The ultimate goal of the course is for students to develop skills in project management, leadership and team building and use those skills in creating clubs for students at the Language Institute to participate in.   Students will create and run a club.  You will learn the skills necessary in project management including recruiting members, creating a charter/vision for the club, holding meetings and implementing activities for the club.    Through teamwork, you will develop your leadership and collaboration skills.

Service Learning

This is an upper-level service-learning English course. ‘Service-learning’ is an established university strategy that enhances student learning while meeting community-identified needs. For English language learning, service-learning provides a workplace setting for applying language skills, as well as knowledge and appreciation of a local Atlanta community and its residents.  In this course you will examine causes and effects of poverty for children in the U.S. and you will work with children and staff at Boys and Girls Clubs USA to identify and support the learning goals for a special learning support program for children.

Vocabulary Development for Standardized Tests

Vocabulary acquisition is essential for students to succeed academically and to score well on standardized tests. The purpose of this course will be to enhance your vocabulary knowledge specifically related to test vocabulary and to develop skills for how to answer vocabulary questions on standardized tests. You will be exposed to 400 words that have been researched and found to be most common on standardized tests. You will learn pre-test strategies for how you can acquire vocabulary like by learning parts of speech and homonyms. You will also acquire during-test strategies for how you can answer vocabulary test questions when you know or do not know the word by utilizing context clues and inferences, for example. Lastly, you will increase your awareness of the various types of vocabulary questions.

Writing More Creatively: Using Literary Devices

The purpose of this course will be to develop skills for how to be a more creative writer.  First, you will learn to define and identify literary devices. You will work on identifying these devices in various contexts, such as in poems, songs, short stories, news articles, research papers, and more. After successfully identifying and understanding each device, you will work on using them. You will apply these devices to all different types of writing, from developing creative writing (like poems) all the way to enhancing introductions for academic papers. This course is considered an integrated skills course; you will be expected to listen, speak, read, and write.