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Grand Rapids, MI

1150 Au Sable Hall; 1 Campus Drive
Allendale, MI 49401-9403
Tel.: (616) 331-9222
ELS Center Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (closed on weekends and holidays)
On the campus of: Grand Valley State University
For more information on this institution's programs click here


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ELS/Grand Rapids is on the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State University (GVSU). The Center is on the first floor of Au Sable Hall, an academic building located in the middle of GVSU's bustling main campus of over 25,000 students. ELS students are only a short walk away from all the amenities available on the campus: restaurants and cafes, the modern library, the newly renovated recreation center, student services, and the bus line. Allendale is located within 20 minutes of the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan and within three hours from Detroit and Chicago. Nearby Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state, with many opportunities for shopping, dining out and visiting museums. The Grand Rapids area is safe and welcoming and offers many cultural, entertainment and sports venues. ELS/Grand Rapids is the ideal choice for international students as it is located in a quiet rural setting on a large university campus yet close to the lively Grand Rapids metropolis.

  • West Michigan is very safe & clean
  • Newly-renovated center with clean, modern classrooms
  • Located in beautiful rural setting
  • Grand Rapids offers many cultural & recreational activities year-round
  • The city of Grand Rapids is only a 10-minute drive or bus ride away
  • Low cost of living
  • Superb Lake Michigan beaches are a short 20-minute drive away
  • Free transportation on the Rapid public bus
  • Join ELS on Social Media! #ELSCenters #ELSGrandRapids

Distance to Key Locations from ELS Center

Location Minutes Transportation Method
Airport 120/35
Bank 5/10/5
Downtown Area 20/15
Post Office 5/2/15/10
Restaurants 5/5/5/5
Shopping Mall/Outlet 70/25
Sports Stadium 20/15
Supermarket 15/10
Pharmacy 15/10
Public Transportation 5/2








110V 60KHz.
Electric Plug Details



Programs available at this location

2017 Cost Per Session
$1840 USD
2017 Cost Per Session
$1410 USD
American Explorer Program

Enjoy the Adventure

2017 Cost Per Session
$1350 USD

Conveniently located in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids. Each room has a full kitchen. Students make Winter Hall their home while at ELS.

Homestays in the area(Homestay)

ELS/Grand Rapids has a welcoming group of American families that are eager to host international students. These families have wonderful homes--some of the families have children, grandchildren, or pets living in their home. Host families are also eager to learn about the student's background and culture and share American culture as well. Most students use the free Rapid public bus to get to campus. If the homestay family is not on the public bus line, they will bring their students to and from school every day. The homestay provider will make every effort to place students with families that fit their personal preferences and hobbies to ensure the student has a positive experience in an American homestay.

Price per Session $830
Occupancy Single
Minimum Age 16
Airport Pickup $80
Meals / week or Meal Credit
16 meals per week. Homestay families provide 16 meals per week to students. This includes breakfast and dinner every day of the week and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Homestay families are willing to accommodate special diet restrictions due to allergies, religion, and personal preferences. Many families enjoy teaching their students how to cook American dishes, and in turn, the students enjoy teaching their homestay families how to cook traditional dishes from their home country.

Winter Hall(Student Residence (On Campus))

Winter Hall is conveniently located in downtown Grand Rapids, on Grand Valley State University's Pew Campus, close to a variety of restaurants, shopping and entertainment options. Students can take the local public bus (the Rapid) for free to the ELS Center.
Single option: Private bedroom in a shared suite-style unit. Shared suite-style bathroom and kitchen.
Single Deluxe option: Completely private space--student has a private bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.
Include a full size refrigerator, stove, dining table and chairs. A microwave is available in the communal student lounge. There is a gym, recreation area, and community room located in the building. Linens are also included and can be changed weekly. Students have access to the laundry facilities. Students clean their own rooms during stay.

Price per Session $850 - 1030
Occupancy Single Deluxe, Single
Minimum Age 18
Airport Pickup $80
Meals / week or Meal Credit
No meals included.

Welcome to Grand Valley State University & ELS Grand Rapids. Morning sun shines over GVSU's Pew Library. Study independently or with groups at the modern Pew library Snow blankets GVSU's Kirkhof Center in winter. University students take in some sunshine. GVSU's Seidman Center for Business, downtown Grand Rapids. GVSU's Au Sable Hall is the home of ELS Grand Rapids. A nice place to relax & eat lunch -- just outside ELS. The quiet courtyard outside the ELS center. Inside Au Sable Hall -- a space for ELS students to study. ELS is in Au Sable Hall, a spacious academic building. ELS Grand Rapids -- Language Technology Center. A newly remodeled classroom at ELS. ELS staff offices are next to ELS classrooms. GVSU's Fresh Food Co. has various items on offer. Lake Ontario Hall is home to GVSU's International Center. GVSU's landscape in autumn is gorgeous. Downtown Grand Rapids is a nice, clean area. The climbing wall is always a fun challenge! Enjoy the track, cardio equipment, weight room, and courts Take a swim for exercise or fun!
  • Baseball field
  • Computer lab
  • Gymnasium
  • Music practice rooms
  • Soccer field
  • Swimming pool (indoor)
  • Tennis court
  • Fitness center
  • Fee for parking at Host Institution
  • Student Health Center
  • Basketball court
  • Library
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Racquetball/Squash court
  • Art studio access
  • Center is handicapped accessible
  • Classrooms are handicapped accessible
  • Cafeteria

What is Conditional Admission?

Institutions in the ELS University Conditional Admission Network offer conditional admission to students who are academically admissible based on the student’s academic record and other university and/or departmental and program requirements, but who have not yet demonstrated English proficiency. Your admission is “conditional” based upon satisfying English proficiency through completion of a specified level of the ELS English for Academic Purposes program and any other specific requirements prior to full admission. Once these requirements are fulfilled, you are able to fully matriculate. These requirements will be outlined on your Conditional Letter of Admission, and your selected ELS center will assist you in completing all of the necessary requirements for matriculation.

Additional matriculation requirements may include other required scores, for example, GMAT® or GRE® for graduate programs.

Our ELS University Partners will offer a Conditional Letter of Admission (CLA) detailing the additional requirements needed for matriculation. You and your family can be assured that you have a university placement and ELS registration prior to departing for the USA.

What is the Conditional Admission Process?

  1. Find a university via our University Finder
  2. Apply for university admission and enroll for English studies at ELS Language Centers with help from a local ELS authorized Counseling Agent.
  3. If you are an acceptable candidate for university admission, you receive a letter of "Conditional university admission subject to English proficiency and submission of any other required documentation for matriculation."
  4. Study at any of the 60 ELS Centers in the USA to fulfill the university entrance requirement for English proficiency.
  5. Begin your university program!

Meet the Staff

Lisa Wooning

Lisa Wooning

Center Director

Welcome to ELS Grand Rapids, in the heart of beautiful west Michigan. A quiet, safe & clean place to live and study, students of ELS Grand Rapids are supported by instructors that have lived abroad and faced many of the same cultural and linguistic challenges. Lisa has been with ELS Grand Rapids since 2012. She has been an instructor, Academic Director, and now she is the Center Director. Lisa has a Master's of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language. Lisa loves traveling, and has visited numerous U.S states along with several countries of the world. Lisa values quality time with family and friends. She also likes to be outside, read historical fiction books, and experiment with new recipes. Email Lisa at

Ashlie Grimwade

Ashlie Grimwade

Academic Director

Ashlie has been with ELS Grand Rapids since June 2013. Ashlie is well-traveled: She lived in California, Washington D.C. and Indiana by the time she was five. When she was eight and ten years old, Ashlie lived with her grandparents in Hokkaido, Japan where they ran an international school. But, she has spent the majority of her life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ashlie graduated from GVSU with a Bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a Masters in TESOL from Cornerstone University. Email Ashlie at

Steve Lane

Steve Lane

International Student Advisor

Steve taught at ELS since September of 2011, he became the Registrar in 2015, and he is now the International Student Advisor. He has taught English as a second language for the past 9 years. He has also taught middle school and high school in Mexico for 5 years. He also loves spending time with his wonderful wife Josefina and fantastic son Damon. He enjoys camping, swimming and hiking with his family in the summer. In the winter, he likes to go skiing, make snowmen, and sit at home watching movies. He also loves going to concerts and dancing any time of year! Email Steve at

Jennifer Snow

Jennifer Snow

IELTS Administrator

Jennifer received her B.S. from GVSU and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Memphis. She also taught English in South Korea and Japan. She enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. She got married in 2013 and has three step-daughters, a grandson, a granddaughter as well as a plethora of nieces, nephews and even great-nieces and great-nephews. She enjoys reading good books, riding bicycles and motorcycles and eating food from many countries. Email Jennifer at

Tami Osgood

Tami Osgood


Tami has been with ELS since 2007. She is an energetic and outgoing person who loves to teach and learn about different cultures. Tami earned her Master's degree from Grand Valley State University in TESOL. She has two children & enjoys gardening and entertaining friends. She also likes to camp and spend time outside.

Erica Spohr

Erica Spohr


Erica loves interacting with people from different languages and cultures. She has been teaching ESL for 10 years and has met students from 52 countries! Erica has a Bachelor's degree in Linguistics from the University of Michigan & has has almost completed an MA in TESOL. Before joining ELS in December 2009, she taught at Northern Michigan University and worked in the Refugee Services program a Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey


Matt has been a teacher at ELS since December, 2012. He graduated from Calvin College in 2009 with a BA in International Development Studies. During his time in college, Matt spent a semester studying in Ghana, West Africa and has since spent a year working in Seoul, South Korea. As a result of these experiences, Matt has developed a passion for teaching in an international, multicultural environment. He is married, and enjoys spending his free time watching movies and reading books, particularly science-fiction.


January 22, 2016


First of all, teachers always gave us great support in the classes
when we had a doubt or any cultural question.
This experience is one of the best in my life.
The course we took had excellent content and organization. I could say it was tough, but we needed that too!

Finally, I want to thank our host families, they were the best! We felt as part of their family. I want to say thank you Carol for everything! I cant use only words to explain this wonderful experience! Thanks Caleb, Chris, Nicholas, Steven, Sara, Lisa, and all who were with us!
We hope to see you again soon!



November 10, 2015

Juan talks about learning English on the campus of GVSU.



August 13, 2015

Sara talks about her time at ELS Grand Rapids at the gardens of Grand Valley State University.


April 7, 2015


I came to ELS Grand Rapids last July. Since I came here, my English has improved drastically. I felt like I was in a learning environment since the first day, and all my teachers have helped with patience, understanding and dedication.
Before I came here, I was afraid that it would be hard for me to acclimate, but with all the support from the teachers and the management, it has been a piece of cake! I made friends with people from all over the world and I'll miss all of them.

-Raheem,Saudi Arabia


February 16, 2015


Xin chao! My name is Hao and I am from Viet Nam. I enjoy studying at ELS/Grand Rapids. In ELS, I have met many friends from around the world. And I have explored many cultures & religions. From the first time I came here until now, my English skills have improved a lot, and my social skills have improved too. ELS gives me many opportunities to adapt as fast as possible to American life. It also prepares me for my future college life too.
I am glad to study here and thanks for helping me to all teachers in ELS Grand Rapids.



February 16, 2015


HI! My name is Duy. I am from Viet Nam. This is the first time I have been to America, especially Michigan. Coming here, I can enjoy the cold weather, see snow falling, all these things I had never experienced before. I am really excited! Moreover, I attend class at ELS Language Centers/Grand Rapids, located at Grand Valley State University. I love everything here, from the artistic structures around campus, the whole-hearted teachers and the international students. I find a lot joyful, I can make friends with everyone, even the teachers. I am so proud that I study here and I will always remember this place wherever I go. This place has changed me & my life.



February 6, 2015


ELS has provided me with one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. The program has given me the opportunity to learn English as a second language and be able to meet people from different cultures.
ELS program offers a very organized course that takes you step by step into the process of learning a second language. Our teachers are very supportive and dedicated, and help us to established valuable relationship between students and teachers. I always feel encouraged to improve my skills.
In addition, ELS Grand Rapids has the advantage of being located in GVSU main Campus in Allendale, MI. It offers us the possibility of enjoying the wonderful facilities that this University has.
Finally, the staff, professors and advisors of ELS promote extracurricular activities including games, excursions, parties, and other cultural activities where we can share with American students of GVSU, and carry on a conversation with natives English Speakers.
I'm thankful for being in this supporting environment that is helping me to achieve my goal.



February 5, 2015


My name is Tinh and I am from Viet Nam. I’m very interested in study English at ELS Language Centers/Grand Rapids. The teachers are nice & they have many experiences about teaching and helping students improve English. For me, I have many friends from ELS, coming from many countries in the world. Furthermore, I love the weather here in Michigan. ELS always makes a lot of activities for me and for students: chat sessions or picnics for relaxing after school time. I think this is a good environment for practicing our English. I give my thanks to ELS Grand Rapids and all the teachers too.



February 5, 2015


I chose the unit of ELS in Grand Rapids because I knew I would not find many Brazillian people here. My focus was really learning English in both grammar and in daily life. Today I see that was the best choice! The school offered me all the support when I arrived in the city and has great teachers: very dynamic, funny and with their particular ways of teaching the English. I'm going back to my country very happy to have reached my goal and I have to thank all the members of the school for helping me and congratulate all because ELS is the best English school!



February 3, 2015


My name is Thu and I am from Viet Nam. I am a new student at
ELS Language Centers/Grand Rapids. The first day I came here, I was impressed by teacher’s enthusiasm. Moreover, I have met many international students and I can practice my speaking skills when I communicate with them, teachers & friends. I believe that I will speak English fluently & my English will improve in the future.


ELS/Grand Rapids Celebrates Teacher's Day!

January 27, 2015


January 27, 2015


January 27, 2015

-Saud,Saudi Arabia

Jong In (Jaden)

July 9, 2014


I got a lot of support from having a GVSU student as a Conversation Partner. I am excited to be on campus with GVSU students because we can contact with GVSU students so easily. When I talk to GVSU students they have been so kind and some are very interested in Korean culture. I have attended the Korean Culture Club and the atmosphere there was a lot of fun.

-Jong In (Jaden) ,South Korea


July 9, 2014


I came to ELS because GVSU is a university which interested me due to its diversities and its high implication with international student. The education provided there is highly appropriate to myself. I intend to pursue an Accounting major, thus GVSU could give me experience and formation in that domain, I really intend to be a part integrated to GVSU community. Also with ELS I think everything is facilitated because students from ELS have some advantages.

-Laurianne,Cote D Ivoire


July 9, 2014


I contacted Kettering University asking for an admission from English Language institute and they recommended me to contact ELS Grand Rapids. I searched by Internet about ELS GR and many students like it except the weather in winter. When I came here, people are friendly and helpful and the weather is getting warmer.

-Sami,Saudi Arabia


June 4, 2014


As an international student, I'd dreamed about studying in the United States. I was hesitating about what school I should choose for improving English. Everyone recommended the ELS center because it will prepare any student to join the universities in U.S. Before I had a chance to study at ELS, I couldn't speak English at all. Thus, I had the privilege and opportunity to study in the ELS Language Center in Grand Rapids. Since I joined this institution, I learned the most popular language that 55% of the world speaks in just one year. Now, I know how to speak, read, write, and listen to English fluently, and all the credit goes to ELS.

-Abdulrahman ,Saudi Arabia

Ana & Juan

March 7, 2014

Part 1:

Part 2:


June 25, 2013


I have been studying English at ELS for 3 months, and I really like this peaceful life. People here, including ELS staffs and students, are friendly, thoughtful and kind, so I'm sure that studying here is a pretty good way to improve English with fun. Teachers always encourage us to learn English through various interesting activities during classes, so students are eager to learn English. Not only do we learn English from them, but we also learn what we need to know in order to live in America. Also, we have fun activities after class, such as going to beaches, enjoying festivals and watching baseball game, and these activities are good opportunities to make friends and enjoy this city. I hope you can study here and enjoy Michigan.
~ Sakino



June 25, 2013


One of the most important and interesting years that I spent in my life time was studying at ELS. There are many factors which made my experience at ELS such a great one. For example, meeting with other international students provides a lot of fun when we compare one culture with others. Moreover, ELS activities are my favorite because of the activities that are chosen and the awesome group of friends. Another factor that helped was living in a Home Stay so it was easy to practice English. Also living in an environment like Grand Rapids which has a good location between big modern urban cities like Chicago and Detroit, and open land with nice looking on many lakes is refreshing. One of the valuable things that improved my English is the way of teaching and on the teachers’ knowledge. To conclude, studying English is neither hard nor easy. It depends on the effort that you put into it.
Anas Almassrahy

-Anas,Saudi Arabia

Students Speak: Reco from ELS/Grand Rapids

June 3, 2013

Students Speak: Deborah from ELS/Grand Rapids

June 3, 2013

ELS Students Speak - About Enjoying Winter Weather

February 1, 2012

ELS Students Speak - About Connecting with Counselors

February 1, 2012

ELS Students Speak - About First Trip Abroad

August 31, 2011

Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle Downtown Grand Rapids

December 23, 2016

Students enjoyed an evening of ice skating at Rosa Parks Circle in Downtown Grand Rapids. For many, it was the first time they went ice skating.

Cirque Du Soleil

December 23, 2016

Students enjoyed a night out to the famous Cirque Du Soleil at the Van Andel Arena. It was an amazing performance!

Grand Rapids Ranked 3rd Safest College Town in the Entire United States of America!

December 23, 2016

Grand Rapids has been recognized as one of the country’s best places to raise a family and a top spot for fun and recreation—plus it consistently makes our list of safest cities in Michigan. But with at least 15 colleges and universities and over 30,000 students, this safe college town is about more than fun and games. It’s not uncommon to find Grand Rapids police officers engaging with citizens in their neighborhoods, on the soccer field, or even as a birthday party surprise. On campus at area colleges like Grand Rapids Community College, campus police provide a number of services including personal escorts, disabled vehicle assistance, and emergency call boxes.

Session 12 Graduation

December 21, 2016

We celebrated students%27 hard word and determination for session 12 with our monthly graduation ceremony. We also said goodbye to all 24 of our Mexican Proyecta 100,000 scholarship students.

GVSU Basketball Game

December 8, 2016

In week 1 of our session, we went to a GVSU basketbal game. It was a great opportunity for students to make new friends.

Craig's Cruisers

December 8, 2016

Students had fun at Craig's Cruisers where they enjoyed bumper cars, an all-you-can eat buffet, laser tag, arcade games, and time together.

Session 11 Autumn Class Photos

November 7, 2016

Every session, we take a class photo of each student's SSP class so they can remember the session. This session, the fall colors were perfect to display the beauty of Michigan in the fall.

GVSU Football Game

November 7, 2016

Students signed up to root for GVSU's football team. They enjoyed the beautiful fall weather, learned about a popular American sport, and the best part was that GVSU won!

Halloween Party

October 27, 2016

Students enjoyed a fun afternoon of donuts & apple cider, pumpkin carving, dancing, a costume contest, a hay ride, and a corn maze at our annual Halloween Party!

Trip to Art Prize

October 13, 2016

Every year, Grand Rapids hosts "Art Prize"--a an open international art competition decided by public vote and experts. All ELS students visited Art Prize together this year.

International Dinner

October 7, 2016

Students joined over 200 other international students from the area at the Grand Rapids Public Museum for an international dinner with activities and prizes.

Kayaking and Canoeing on the Grand River

October 7, 2016

Our students enjoyed a time to get to know each other during the first week of classes by going on a kayaking and canoeing trip down the Grand River.

Campus Life Night

September 14, 2016

Students worked together to make signs to advertise for GVSU Conversation Partners at the Campus Life Night. They also explained to potential volunteers about our program. Our students talked to over 100 GVSU students!

Laker Kickoff Party

September 14, 2016

Grand Valley State University hosted the "Laker Kickoff Party" as a way to get students excited for the new semester. Our ELS students enjoyed meeting GVSU students.

Michigan's Adventure!

September 14, 2016

Students enjoyed a fun trip to Michigan's Adventure--a water and amusement park.

Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

August 16, 2016

We went on an adventure to Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park. We climbed and swung from the trees, and we practiced following very important safety directions in English.

End of Ramadan Celebration

July 12, 2016

After a month of fasting during Ramadan, our Muslim students enjoyed teaching their traditions and culture to other ELS students. We went to the Grand Valley State University farmer%27s market for a delicious lunch with teachers and students.

Trip to the John Ball Zoo

July 12, 2016

On a final Thursday afternoon, students enjoyed a sunny trip to the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Students enjoyed practicing their English together, with zoo keepers, and with other visitors.

Girl's Night Out

June 21, 2016

The female students at ELS enjoyed a relaxing afternoon after school. First, we got our nails done at a local salon and then we went out for dinner together.

Rock climbing

June 21, 2016

Students enjoyed a good challenge on the rock wall with thei teacher, Daniel.

Bowling with Conversation Partners

April 26, 2016

Students enjoyed an evening of bowling, pizza, and soda while getting to know their GVSU conversation partners.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

April 26, 2016

Students had fun dressing up in green for St. Paddy's Day!

Volunteering for Kids' Food Basket

April 26, 2016

Students donated food and packaged it for Kids' Food Basket, a local charity to help kids in the Grand Rapids area receive sack suppers.

Ice Hockey

March 15, 2016

ELS went to another hockey game. The Grand Rapids Griffins are doing very well. They won this game 7-2!!

Craig's Cruisers

January 22, 2016

Craig's Cruisers is a great place to go in the cold weather. Games, food and fun!

ELS Graduation

January 22, 2016

Every 4 weeks students can move up one or two levels. We have a graduation ceremony to celebrate their success!


2017 ELS/Grand Rapids Application

2017 ELS/Grand Rapids Application

2017 ELS/Grand Rapids Center Application

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ELS at Grand Valley State University

ELS at Grand Valley State University

Provides a brief description of ELS, our Programs and the Grand Rapids ELS Language Center. The flyer also offers some specific attributes of the university, its programs and other helpful information.

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GVSU Campus Map -- Allendale

GVSU Campus Map -- Allendale

The main campus of Grand Valley State University is in the town of Allendale, 20 minutes away from both downtown Grand Rapids and the beautiful beaches of Lake Michigan.

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GVSU Campus Map -- Grand Rapids

GVSU Campus Map -- Grand Rapids

Winter Hall, the dormitory where ELS Language Centers/Grand Rapids students live, is located on Grand Valley State University's downtown campus . Most of the university's graduate programs are here as well.

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GVSU profile

GVSU profile

Detailed description of Grand Valley State University.

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Session 12 Activity Calendar

Session 12 Activity Calendar

We have many fun and enriching activities planned for session 12 (November 13-December 10). Join us to make lasting memories!

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Session 13 Activity Calendar

Session 13 Activity Calendar

Join our fun and meaningful activities for session 13 (December 10 - January 7).

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