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ELS Policies & Procedures

ELS has policies and procedures to ensure that you have the best experience while studying at our centers. View our academic and housing policies below.

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Academic Policies & Procedures


ELS wants to help you learn English quickly and enjoy your learning experience. We are committed to helping you understand our academic program, explain our policies, and answer any questions that you may have about our academic program and services.

All new ELS students will take an online level placement test prior to arrival at the center. The placement test will determine what level each new student will begin studies at. The placement test consists of four parts:

  • Grammar, Reading and Vocabulary
  • Writing
  • Listening and Speaking

Students will receive an email with a link to the online test 6 weeks prior to their start date. To take the online placement test, students will need a computer with a camera and microphone. The test must be taken using Firefox or Chrome as the browser. New students may be placed in any one of our levels 101 through 109. True beginners may be placed in our level 100 class.

Each student’s starting level at ELS can only be determined after they have taken the online placement test*.


*ELS will also accept an official TOEFL iBT, IELTS or GTEC test score to guarantee placement into levels 104, 106 or 108, depending on the score. Official test scores must be submitted before the student begins classes at the center. Students will still need to take the online placement test prior to arrival, and final placement will be determined by the placement test. However, students who submit an official TOEFL, IELTS or GTEC score will be placed no lower than the guaranteed placement level. The chart below shows the scores needed to guarantee level placement:


ELS Minimum Placement Level IELTS TOEFL iBT
104 4.0 45 - 54
106 4.5 - 5.0 55 - 64
108 5.5 or higher 65+

ELS Language Centers has 12 levels, 101 - 112. The ELS curriculum groups these twelve levels into four proficiency bands:


Proficiency Band ELS Levels
Beginner 101-103
Intermediate 104-106
Advanced 107-109
Masters 110-112

You need to show that you can use the language learned in all three levels of a proficiency band before you can move on to the next band.

ELS Language Centers believes in the importance of academic honesty. This means that we expect that each student will produce his or her own work on all assignments and will not cheat on any exam.

This ELS policy protects you: Accurate assessment of your English skills will ensure that you are in the appropriate level. Being promoted to a level that is too high for your proficiency will delay your ability to learn and succeed.

This policy is similar to policies set by many universities in North America. If you are going to a university in the US or Canada, understanding and respecting these policies will help you succeed.

Housing Policies & Rules


ELS’s housing rules and policies are in place to ensure that you have a positive stay and that you and your chosen housing provider or host family know what to expect. Should you have any questions regarding these policies, please see your Center Staff.

  • If you would like ELS to arrange housing for you and you did not request housing in your application form, please review the housing options available at your Center and contact ELS to reserve your housing as soon as possible. Some of our housing options have limited availability and are in high demand.
  • Full payment arrangements of a Student Residence Booking is required twenty-eight (28) days prior to Check-in. Full payment arrangements of a Homestay Booking is required fourteen (14) days prior to Check-in. Failure to provide proof of payment by the stipulated dates may result in a Room Release. In the event that a Student needs to change their originally scheduled Check-in and/or Check-out dates for any reason, the Date Change policy applies.
  • While ELS will make every effort to accommodate your housing preferences, we cannot guarantee specific room types. However, you will pay the fee for the housing type you are given, and in most cases of substitutions, this fee is less.
  • We understand that circumstances may arise where a Student needs to cancel their Booking. The following cancellation provisions will determine the applicable timelines and charges that will apply to a cancelled Booking, which balance the need for the flexibility for the Student with the commitments that ELS makes with Student Residence providers and Homestay families.
  • Students will be placed in their accommodation from the Sunday before their course start date until the Saturday after the course start date.
    CANCELLATION BEFORE CHECK-IN (STUDENT RESIDENCE)
    At least 28 days’ notice of cancellation request
    If a Student wishes to cancel a Student Residence Booking and they give us at least twenty-eight (28) days’ notice before their Check-in date, they are entitled to a full refund of the paid accommodation charges.
    Less than 28 days’ notice of cancellation request
    If a Student wishes to cancel a Student Residence Booking and they give us less than twenty-eight (28) days’ notice before their Check-in date, they must pay up to four (4) weeks’ accommodation fee.
    CANCELLATION BEFORE CHECK-IN (HOMESTAY)
    At least 14 days’ notice of cancellation request
    If a Student wishes to cancel a Homestay Booking and they give us at least fourteen (14) days’ notice before their Check-in date, they are entitled to a full refund of the accommodation charges.
    Less than 14 days notice of cancellation request
    If a Student wishes to cancel a Homestay Booking and they give us less than fourteen days (14) days’ notice before their Check-in date, they must pay up to two (2) weeks’ accommodation fee.
    CANCELLATION AFTER CHECK-IN (STUDENT RESIDENCE & HOMESTAY) If a Student wishes to cancel or shorten a Student Residence or Homestay Booking after Check-in:
    (i) Bookings up to four (4) weeks and six (6) days (total 34 days), no refund;
    (ii) Bookings more than 5 weeks (total 35 days), with four (4) weeks Written Notice, they will be entitled to a refund of outstanding amount.
  • ELS can only arrange housing for ELS students, and only while they are studying with ELS. Any dependents you bring with you must also be ELS students if you wish for ELS to arrange their housing. If you will bring dependents who will not be studying with ELS, then they will need to make their own housing arrangements.
  • ELS arranges all housing to begin 1 day before your session begins (Sunday), and end 1 day after your session ends (Saturday). If your arrival and departure days are different, and you will need additional housing while in the US, you will need to make additional arrangements for that time. (ELS can make special arrangements only for students 17 years old or younger.) Please contact ELS to obtain a list of recommended hotels in the area.
  • In America, not all places are located close to each other. Having a 30- to 45- minute commute from your host family or student residence to the Center is quite normal and represents an average American commute time.
  • If you have any problems with your accommodations, you must report them to the ELS Center as quickly as possible. The Center staff will be happy to help you resolve any problems and will be able to assist you with all of your housing needs.

  • Students cannot smoke in any area or building of the residence, including student rooms. Most dorms also do not allow alcohol at any time, and others have strict rules regarding alcohol and parties at the dorms. The ELS Center Staff will inform you of these policies when you arrive at the Center.
  • Overnight guests are not usually permitted in the student residences, and guests may be expected to leave between 10 and 11 pm, depending on the residence’s rules.
  • Student rooms and belongings should be kept neat and clean at all times. You will be responsible for cleaning your room, and you must also clean up after yourself in the bathroom.
  • Move-out times will be specified at the Center. In most cases, student rooms must be inspected before the student leaves. Please allow plenty of time for the inspection before departure.
  • Student rooms include a desk, a chair, and a bed (bed is often a bunk bed), along with a place for clothes. ELS encourages students to decorate rooms with items that will not cause damage to the room.
  • In many cases, students will share a bathroom with other students. Most dorm bathrooms are located in the hallway and are used by all students living on your floor.
  • Foods available near the Center will differ from the foods available in students’ home countries. If you have any specific dietary needs or allergies, please contact your Center for dining recommendations.
  • Living with roommates may be a difficult adjustment. Remember that your roommates are also trying to adjust, so please be kind and patient. We recommend that students do not change their housing for at least 4 weeks during the adjustment process. If you have any problems after that period, please contact a Center representative directly.
  • Each residence has its own rules and regulations. You will be required to follow all of the rules during your stay at the dorm.

  • Students are generally not permitted to smoke in the host family’s home, including the student’s bedroom.
  • Overnight guests are not permitted, and all guests will be expected to leave by 9 or 10 pm, depending on the rules of your host.
  • Student rooms and belongings should be kept neat and clean at all times.
  • Living with an American family may be a difficult adjustment. Remember that your host family is also trying to adjust, so please be kind and patient. We recommend that students do not change their housing for at least 4 weeks during the adjustment process.
  • American host families live a busy lifestyle. Breakfast with the host family will often include cereal and toast, and you will be expected to prepare it yourself. If your homestay includes dinner meals, your dinner will be ready usually between 6 pm to 8 pm.
  • American families eat a lot of meat, pasta, potatoes, and vegetables. The portions and variety may be different than other countries. You may wish to supplement your meals with a large lunch.
  • ELS does not allow students to visit different families to choose a place or residence. ELS will use the information you provide on your application to find a suitable host family for your needs, so please make sure to give ELS all of your host family preferences. Please make sure to provide a completed application when applying for Homestay.
  • Your host family will provide you with meals and a safe and comfortable place to live. The family will not cater to all of your needs, or clean up after you. You must treat your host family with respect and kindness at all times, and your host family will treat you with respect and kindness as well. It is considered rude to be impatient and demanding.
  • Please provide your flight details two weeks before your session start date to your counseling agent or ELS Central Admissions Department. This is important for your host family. They need to know your estimated time of arrival so they can be home to welcome you.

For ELS Chicago students only: IBHE Complaints Policy


Complaints against ELS may also or alternatively be registered with the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)


Information about the complaint may be submitted online through the IBHE website (www.ibhe.org). Additional information regarding the complaint process can be obtained by contacting the Board at:


Illinois Board of Higher Education

Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools

1 N. Old State Capitol Plaza, Suite 333
Springfield, IL 62701

Phone: (217) 782-2551

Fax Number: (217) 782-8548