The English Competency Course (ECC) is a three-month series of classes (13 weeks with two classes per week). The classes are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM, and the program will start again on September 17, 2019 and continue through December 19, 2019. Staff will be able to register and sign up for the class in blocks of 13 sessions.  The class will continue in 2020 from January 7 until April 9.

To assure full benefit and return of investment, both in time and effort, employees enrolling in this class must commit to attend all the classes and to complete the tasks assigned.

If you are interested in joining the ECC class this fall, please contact Stephen Butler (542-2521 / for details.


The focus of the class curriculum is to increase and improve fluency in communication.  The classes address the following learning goals:

  • understand English at its natural pace
  • clarify meaning in context using guessing and paraphrasing strategies
  • improve grammar, including use of varied verb tenses
  • adjust formality depending on the social situation
  • summarize and make inferences
  • expand and combine simple sentences by adding modifying words, clauses, phrases, and transition words
  • complete increasingly difficult forms, questionnaires, and surveys
  • need minimal repetition
  • prepare and deliver oral presentations
  • recognize and interpret an increasing number of idioms and phrasal verbs
  • differentiate fact from opinion
  • compose letters or documents
  • write email messages requiring detail
Who Should Participate

This course is intended for students with a range of abilities, from beginning to advanced level of English proficiency.  Instruction will be individualized; curriculum will be designed to meet students’ stated needs and goals as well as supervisors’ goals. 

History of the English Competency Course

Since 2012 the Office of Human Resources has offered staff members wanting to increase their English language skills a full course with focus on improving speaking, writing and reading skills.  The course has been conducted in partnership with the UMass Workplace Learning and Development Center and the International Language Institute.  To date, 19 staff members have completed this program.  We are very proud of the accomplishments of our graduates in this program and the amazing stories describing how much the class has changed their personal and professional lives.  Some of the accomplishments include:

  • improved speaking and listening skills
  • greater understanding and confidence in speaking with coworkers, customers, and supervisors
  • enhanced work performance, as reported by campus managers
  • better understanding of workplace English, including vocabulary used in technical positions
  • improved writing competency
  • staff have been promoted or increased their level of responsibility
  • staff have enrolled in undergraduate or graduate studies, or have completed their citizenship application 

We invite supervisors and department heads to evaluate the speaking, reading and writing skills of any staff in your department whom you think would benefit from this English Competency Course. If you wish to nominate an employee for the class, please contact Stephen Butler (542-2521 /  Employees and managers will have the opportunity to meet the teachers and to complete an assessment to determine their language skill level before the beginning of the class.

Thank you very much for your support of our employees and their continuous growth and development!

 Workplace Fundamentals Program

For more information about other career and professional development trainings, please visit the Workplace Fundamentals page.