Sacred Heart’s English Language Institute awarded accreditation

Sacred Heart University’s English Language Institute has been awarded accreditation through the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA).

The mission of the commission is to promote excellence in the field of English language administration and teaching through the accreditation of English language programs and institutions worldwide. It was founded in 1999 by English language professionals, recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting agency in September 2003 and, two years later, expanded its role to include accreditation outside the U.S.

“We started the process to earn accreditation two and a half years ago,” said Madeleine Monaghan, director of Sacred Heart’s English Language Institute. “As part of the process, we had to go through a self-study where all the teaching policies and practices in the department were analyzed.

“Accreditation has 52 standards of excellence that must be adhered to,” she said. “These standards include curriculum design, faculty qualifications, facilities, student services and student achievements. By going through the process, you perfect and continually improve what you are doing. The process provides a framework for achieving excellence, but it’s still a lot of work.”

Sacred Heart’s program features 15 teachers and offers ESL classes on both its Fairfield and Stamford campuses throughout five semesters. Participating students have come from 11 different countries.

Monaghan received training in the accreditation process in the CEA’s Washington, D.C., office. Then, over an 18-month period, she interviewed many different departments on campus to gather information to write the self-study.

Samantha Pitler, assistant director of ELI, supported the process from the beginning.

“The faculty was also extremely important in the continual design of the curriculum, design of the self-study and participation in actual site visits,” Monaghan said. “Accreditation demonstrates and validates that our teaching methods, policies and structure in our ESL program are excellent and gives any potential ESL student the reassurance that this is a quality program where they will learn English effectively. This was a very big project — lengthy and involved. It shows our dedication and commitment to ESL.”

To maintain its accreditation, Monaghan’s department must file annual reports that demonstrate adherence to standards. The CEA will also conduct periodic site visits to ensure the standards are being met.

“We appreciate the help, support and guidance of everyone involved and look forward to many years of excellent ESL programming on this beautiful campus,” said Provost Laura Niesen de Abruna of the accomplishment.

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