The INTERLINK Curriculum and Level Descriptions

Key Aspects of the INTERLINK Curriculum

  • Full-time students at INTERLINK take two classes, one Communication Skills class, which focuses on speaking and listening, and one Reading/Writing class. Each class is two hours per day, five days a week. To complete one level, students take two modules that run for five weeks. In other words, each level is ten weeks.
  • INTERLINK instructors are intent and focused on finding quality content of value and interest to their students.
  • In each level of the program students: acquire strategies to choose, collect, try out, and review vocabulary; increase listening and reading comprehension; target and correct grammar errors within their conversations and presentations; improve pronunciation; and target and correct formatting, spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors and mistakes within their portfolio writing.
  • The process orientation and iterative nature of the projects in INTERLINK courses are designed to move students through experiential learning cycles of trying, reflecting/receiving feedback, making discoveries, and applying learning to the next experience. Proofreading, self assessment, and peer review combine with instructor feedback to inform changes that go into subsequent drafts of student work. Viewing writing as a process is essential to improving writing skills. Student and instructor writings are the main models and focus of writing workshops ensuring responsiveness to actual student needs.
  • INTERLINK instructors are trained in the fine balance of equipping students and providing appropriate scaffolding for student success while still putting students at the center of the classroom. Students are doing the choosing, planning, speaking, even some facilitation of activities, all guided by the instructor but executed by the students to maximize all opportunities for critical thinking and practice.
  • Academic honesty is upheld through learning about differences across various academic cultures and careful coaching in recognizing what constitutes ideas that belong to others. Students learn to manage the ideas of others appropriately through effective paraphrasing, quoting, referencing, synthesizing, and using the ideas of others to complement and support one’s own ideas. Holistic assessment rather than high-stakes assignments give students the circumstances they need to practice without anxiety.
  • Improving skills across all levels is always pursued strategically, collaboratively, and authentically.
  • A student must show growth in vocabulary and use of language both grammatically and functionally to meet the demands of the project and the increasing sophistication of the topics at each level.

Level Descriptions

Communication Skills

Levels
CEFR
IELTS
TOEFL iBT
(Total Score)
Description
Level 1
High A1
-
-
Students come into this level and are deemed program-ready when they demonstrate a foundational vocabulary of high frequency everyday words, fundamental grammar, for example: including and distinguishing subject and verb, using simple adjectives and pronouns, and showing some awareness of tense and basic functions/expressions as building blocks before beginning this level. This level of readiness is assessed during placement testing. For students who are not yet program-ready, INTERLINK’s Fundamentals program is recommended.

Students beginning level one are ready to work on becoming fluent and conversational in common everyday topics. To develop listening skills, students practice by listening to ESL-modified videos and accessible TV shows and movies centered on family, food, shopping, school and other common everyday life experiences and topics. By the end of this level, students are able to deliver one-to-two-minute monologues on life experiences or topics related to their hobbies and interests exhibiting their growth in pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and fluency. They also must demonstrate comprehension of the main ideas of listenings chosen for this level. Building vocabulary, noticing grammar, and trying to say as much as possible with each opportunity are key during their time in this level.
Level 2
Low - Mid A2
4.0
30-35
Students learn to apply conversation management strategies. They work on delivering cultural and “how-to” presentations, speaking at greater and greater lengths, building vocabulary, and improving pronunciation. Surveying, and interviewing also provide practice and a way to build communication skills. Students also learn to manage and demonstrate comprehension of the main points and some details of informational videos (Youtube/other internet sources) by asking and answering questions, summarizing, and learning to apply comprehension support strategies.
Level 3
Mid - High A2
4.5 - 5.0
35 - 45
By the end of this level, students will be able to understand the main idea and key details of videos about travel, work, business, community, and culture. During the term, they develop and practice 15-20 minute presentations, often aligned with themes from the videos. Students develop the ability to produce and understand more complex speech about topics outside their own experience in addition to everyday topics. They also develop their analytic and critical response abilities and begin to learn about and incorporate conventions of academic discourse.
Level 4
Low - Mid B1
5.0 - 5.5
45 - 55
During this level, students learn to improve listening strategies such as listening for signal words and other cues, paying attention to the phrasing and stress a speaker uses, and learning to graphically organize ideas they learn from listenings, all to help improve their ability to manage listening at this level. By the end of this level, students are more skillfully applying comprehension strategies as they watch news programs in one module or videos related to aspects of Hofstede’s six dimensions of culture and other common aspects of intercultural communication in the other module. Students also must successfully organize and play out a news program of their own creation in one module and deliver a presentation on a topic of intercultural studies in the other module. Both presentations are worked on and built throughout the term with their best language and academic skills on display in the culminating final presentation.
Level 5
Mid - High B1
5.5 - 6.0
55 - 65
By the end of this level, students are skillfully applying comprehension strategies when listening to debate and mock trial genre videos, documentaries and movies, helping them to distinguish and analyze the main points and key support for arguments. Students learn to take effective notes and effectively outline the arguments. Students must then demonstrate argumentative skills, including exhibiting clarity of language / speech and using academic conventions in presenting arguments supported by evidence.
Level 6
B2
6.0 - 6.5
65 - 75
By the end of this level, students will have demonstrated the ability to use conventions of academic and civil discourse preparing them for university classes and discussions in professional settings. They will have successfully delivered a culminating research-based academic presentation, demonstrating clarity of language/speech and conventional academic organization and support of ideas, showing quality of thought and critical thinking. They will also have demonstrated comprehension of lectures on academic topics as well as other academic videos and documentaries.

Reading and Writing Skills

Levels
CEFR
IELTS
TOEFL iBT
(Total Score)
Description
Level 1
High A1
-
-
Students come into this level and are deemed program-ready when they demonstrate a foundational vocabulary of high frequency everyday words, fundamental grammar, for example: including and distinguishing subject and verb, using simple adjectives and pronouns, and showing some awareness of tense and basic functions/expressions as building blocks before beginning this level. This level of readiness is assessed during placement testing. For students who are not yet program-ready, INTERLINK’s Fundamentals program is recommended.

For reading skills development, students are reading graded readers and ESL-modified articles from online sources with a lot of practice asking and answering questions about readings and a heavy emphasis on vocabulary-building.

For writing skills development, students blog about autobiographical experiences and topics of interest, working on producing well-developed paragraphs. Students learn to identify and correct basic spelling and punctuation errors as well as errors in verb tense.
Level 2
Low - Mid A2
4.0
30-35
Reading stories and articles appropriate for elementary school/juvenile level native speakers, students develop and demonstrate understanding of character actions and interactions as well as time, place, and relationship. In their writing, the emphasis is on fluency and quantity; combining paragraphs based on topics of personal knowledge/experience into coherent narratives and descriptions; using effective cohesion and transitions; and starting to utilize compound/complex sentence structures.
Level 3
Mid - High A2
4.5 - 5.0
35 - 45
Students develop the ability to negotiate their way more rapidly through longer texts using context and guessing. They also use their readings to inform and support their own ideas in writing. This level introduces essay writing. Students write their first basic thesis-driven and reflective essays learning to use effective organization, development of ideas, and clarity of language. At this level, they are becoming adept at revising their own writing in terms of organization and support as well as accuracy.
Level 4
Low - Mid B1
5.0 - 5.5
45 - 55
The focus for writing in this level is to take students’ basic essay writing skills further. Whereas in level 3 students were only providing development on the main idea level, in level 4, students must learn to go deeper, dividing their main points into supporting points and developing each supporting point well with explanations and examples. Additionally, students keep working at patterns of grammatical errors most common to their writing, trying to overcome areas of fossilization and L1 interference. For reading, students read op-eds and the relevant or most important parts of feature articles, using them as models to help students form and express their own ideas and opinions. Students also become more aware and capable of managing inferences. Students continue to more effectively apply reading strategies they are already aware of and continue to gain more ideas as to how to strategically improve their reading comprehension and speed.
Level 5
Mid - High B1
5.5 - 6.0
55 - 65
Students develop the ability to draw inferences from and respond critically to popular nonfiction texts and feature articles from respected magazines and newspapers. They also develop abilities to find and use multiple source materials: sifting, selecting from, taking notes on, combining and organizing information and ideas. Students are refining their ability to write clear and substantial thesis statements and learning to incorporate information and ideas from reliable and appropriately cited sources, avoiding plagiarism. The main genres worked on at this level are persuasive essays, reading response papers, and cause and effect essays.
Level 6
B2
6.0 - 6.5
65 - 75
Students develop the ability to read popular non-fiction texts, journal articles, and other typical excerpts of general education / liberal arts type reading with comprehension of main ideas and key details, learning effective note-taking and outlining as key strategies. To graduate from INTERLINK, students must not only have a firm grasp on writing essays and reflections, but they must also be information literate, able to conduct research and use it as support, equipped with familiarity with style guides and citing sources. In one module of level 6, students do the research for and produce an annotated bibliography for a research paper. The other module is dedicated to producing documented essays demonstrating information literacy / research skills. Both modules give students the opportunity for growth in using the terminology common to their future field of study or work through taking on topics related to that field. Students learn the academic and language skills needed to organize, develop, support, and communicate ideas clearly according to academic conventions. The sophistication of the final level is typical of a general education university English course.

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