TESL History

A Brief History of Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language at Illinois and Some Milestones

1946:   In 1946-47 Time Table, first listing of an English course for Foreign Students, RHET 9a, taught by Helen Brennan.

1947:   Rhetoric courses specifically for foreign students first given the rubric EFS (English for Foreign Students). 1947 is taken to be the official start of the ESL program at UIUC. The rubric was changed from EFS to ESL in 1965.

1955:   First mention of a Program in English for Foreign Students as a component of the English Department. Helen Brennan is listed as Chairman.

1965:   Department of Linguistics founded, from an earlier Linguistics Program (members: Braj B. Kachru, Henry Kahane, Howard Maclay, Charles E. Osgood, and John F. Yegerlehner);     Robert Lees appointed as first head

1966:   Division of English as a Second Language founded MATESL degree approved by the Board of Trustees, July 27, 1966; first listed in the Graduate College Bulletin, 1967-68.

1966:   Teacher Education Minor in ESL first listed in catalog of programs. Option 1 was for English literature majors; Option 2 was for foreign language, speech or social studies majors; Option 3 for students majoring in teacher education in English.  Options 1 & 2 became the Minor in ESL; Option 3 became the Teacher Education Minor in ESL.

1968:   First off-campus internship established: Puerto Rico (1968-75). Subsequent internships in Tehran, Iran (1970-78), Madrid, Spain (1986-93), Costa Rica (1996)

1968:   LSA Summer Institute hosted     

1969:   LSA Summer Institute hosted

1971:   ESL offices moved from the English Building to 3070 LCLB; ESL courses listed separately from English Department listings

1971:   First issue of Studies in the Linguistic Sciences published

1974:   First listing of unit by the term Division; used informally in the abbreviation DESL for years before

1975:   First issue of TESL Studies, Yamuna Kachru and J Ronayne Cowan, editors. Six issues published through 1985

1978:   LSA Summer Institute hosted

1986:   Inaugural issue of Issues and Developments in English and Applied Linguistics, IDEAL, Wayne Dickerson, editor. Eight issues published through 1995.

1987:   Under Braj Kachru, Director, the unit changed names from DESL (Division of English as a Second Language) to DEIL (Division of English as an International Language).

1990:   25th anniversary (lecture series and special SLS volume) (Invited alumni speakers: Ronald Langacker, Jerry Sadock, Fritz Newmeyer, David Odden, Lise Menn, Peter Lowenberg, Gabriella Hermon, S.N. Sridhar)

1990:   First issue of Pragmatics and Language Learning, Lawrence F. Bouton, Yamuna Kachru, editors. Eleven volumes published through 2006.

1997:   50th anniversary celebration of the start of the ESL program at UIUC

1999:   LSA Summer Institute hosted

2008:   Merger of the Division of English as an International Language and Linguistics

2009:   First meeting of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society (ILLS) conference

2015-16: 50th anniversary celebrations (in conjunction with ILLS-8)


Much of this history of the Program graciously provided by Dr Wayne Dickerson