American Language Institute

Center for Global Engagement
1600 Holloway Ave, Hum 101
San Francisco, CA 94132
Phone: 415-338-1438


The American Language Institute (ALI) is SF State's English program for non-matriculated international students, founded in 1961. The ALI offers an intensive English for academic preparation program designed primarily for international students preparing to enter SF State or another American college or university. The ALI provides a full-time intensive curriculum focused on English as a Second Language that gives students both the language and academic skills necessary for success in higher education in the United States. There are five levels of instruction ranging from low intermediate to advanced. The program is offered in fall, spring and summer. Students are expected to regularly attend classes and maintain good academic standing to continue in the program.

Admissions Requirements: All applicants must be graduates of a recognized high school or secondary school. 

Application Process: See for detailed instructions on how to apply.

Conditional Admission to Academic Programs

Students who are academically eligible for undergraduate degree programs and CPaGE certificates, but do not yet have the required English proficiency may be offered conditional admission. Upon completing ALI levels with appropriate grades, students may gain admission without taking an additional English proficiency exam.

Gateway Program

The Gateway program combines one or two academic credit courses, tutorial support for academic coursework and non-credit intensive English.  Students in Gateway are also eligible for conditional admission to undergraduate academic degree programs and CPaGE certificates.

Learning Outcomes:

The American Language Institute is a non-credit intensive English program with 5 levels of instruction ranging from low intermediate to advanced.

  1. Develop the language proficiency, academic and critical thinking skills required for academic success at colleges and universities. Gain increased understanding of academic values and expectations.
  2. Increase listening comprehension skills across a range of settings including conversations, small group discussions, informal talks, and academic lectures of various lengths. Develop organized note-taking skills.
  3. Develop oral communication proficiency and fluency including pronunciation, accuracy, and increased confidence in conversations, academic discussions, and presentation skills.
  4. Increase reading strategies including pre-reading to activate schemata and predict content, understanding organizational patterns, and gaining annotating skills for increased comprehension and retention. Expand understanding of grammar, punctuation, and academic vocabulary.
  5. Develop writing abilities across a range of skill levels from sentence and paragraph composition to process writing across various organizational styles for essays and academic research papers. Research and analytical skills are gained and practiced at higher proficiency levels.

Program Requirements:

Core Courses

  • Reading and Writing
  • Oral Communication Skills and Listening
  • Grammar


  • Business English
  • American Short Stories
  • American Cultural Perspectives
  • Grammar for Written Expression
  • Pronunciation
  • San Francisco Neighborhoods