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Frequently Asked Questions

  • two esl students share a laugh after class
  • ACLI student relaxes before class begins
  • ESL teacher working with student on computer

Frequently Asked Questions

NOVA Workforce's American Culture & Language Institute (ACLI) helps our community members, visitors to Virginia, and international students improve their English skills. Students can choose to study in the Intensive English Program (IEP) or the Part-Time ESL Program.

ACLI students begin ESL at a lower level than College ESL. Both programs offer pre-academic classes. ACLI also offers work-based English courses in our Part-Time ESL program.

See Levels of ACLI ESL and Levels of College ESL to read more about what students can do at each level in each program. 


College ESL

ACLI Low Beginning (1)
Intensive or Part-Time ESL
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing


ACLI Beginning (2)
Intensive or Part-Time ESL
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing


ACLI High Beginning (3)
Intensive or Part-Time ESL
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing


ACLI Low Intermediate (4)
Intensive or Part-Time ESL
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing

College ESL 2
Oral Communication,
Reading, & Writing

ACLI Intermediate (5)
Intensive, Part-Time ESL, Specialty
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing

College ESL 3
Oral Communication,
Reading, & Writing

ACLI High Intermediate (6)
Intensive or Specialty
Speaking, Listening, Reading, & Writing

College ESL 4
Reading & Writing


College ESL 5
Reading & Writing


English 111 + ESL 95


English 111

What is the ACLI ESL assessment?

The ACLI assessment is a short interview on Zoom. During the interview, you will speak with an ACLI ESL advisor and then send us a writing sample. 

Before scheduling your assessment, complete a MyWorkforceprofile online. Click on "Login" on the top left and "Create New Account." Your email address is your user ID. If you don't have an email address, please contact Workforce student support staff for assistance.

To speak with an ACLI ESL advisor, students make an appointment by completing this Google form: or emailing

Do I need to take an ACLI assessment?

Yes. The ACLI assessment helps staff recommend the best course for you.

How is the ACLI assessment scored?

ACLI ESL advisors carefully listen to your speaking during your interview. They listen to the organization of ideas, pronunciation, and vocabulary choice. They carefully read your writing sample, looking for organization of ideas, grammar, and vocabulary choice.

How do I get my ACLI assessment results?

An ACLI ESL advisor will email you your ACLI results and recommend courses for you to take.

Can I retake the ACLI assessment?

The ACLI assessment is given to new students or students switching between Part-Time ESL and IEP. If you have been away from ACLI ESL for more than a year, we may retest you.

During the first week of your classes, you will complete additional assessments in writing and speaking. If your instructor feels that you are not at the correct level, they will notify the ACLI Coordinator.

How long does it take to complete a level in ACLI?

Most ESL students need at least 100 hours of study at a level to build their skills. The length of time it takes to complete a level depends on the length of each course and whether the student passes.

  1. Intensive English courses are 125 hrs per semester. Most students complete a level of IEP in one semester.
  2. Part-Time ESL courses are 50 hours per semester.
    1. Students at the lower end of a level are placed into Part 1 (i.e. 5.1). Students need 100 hours of instruction/two semesters to complete the level.
    2. Students at the upper end of a level are placed into Part 2 (i.e. 5.2). Students need 50 hours of instruction/one semester to complete the level.

Is there a course enrollment limit policy?

Students will move to a higher-level course if they have earned an S grade for Satisfactory. Some students need two semesters to do that. However, students cannot take the same course more than two times. If a student is repeating a course, they must pass as they cannot register for it a third time.

Where can I take ACLI ESL courses?

ACLI offers ESL courses at the Alexandria, Annandale, and Loudoun (Signal Hill) campuses and online via Zoom and Canvas.

How many classes do F-1 visa students need to take?

New F-1 visa students must study full time in Summer, Fall, and Spring. Full-time study includes taking two IEP courses each semester.

Continuing F-1 visa students must study full time in Fall and Spring. They can choose to take Summer off or study part time.

For more information visit the NOVA International Student Admissions Process page.

Where can I find information on how to register for ACLI?

How to Register for ACLI ESL classes through MyWorkforce:

  1. Go to
  2. Create a Student Profile:
    1. This is a one-time process for new students and will provide you with your own personal, password-protected account.
    2. You must have an e-mail address to complete the student profile.
  3. Find Classes:
    1. Browse all classes by category or search for a specific class. You also have the option to sort classes by location, instructor, price, and start date.
  4. Add classes to your “Shopping Cart” and Checkout: (additional steps may be required for FastForward classes)
    1. To select a class for registration, click “Add to Cart”. If a class is full you can add your name to the waiting list (if available).
    2. Once you’ve selected your classes, click “Checkout”.
    3. To “Checkout”, you must agree to the refund policy, and follow the directions to complete your registration with your credit card. You will receive an e-mail confirmation.

Visit the NOVA Workforce Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. 

How can I request a refund?

Students request a refund by emailing The refund deadline is 7 days after the first day of class.

How do I transfer to College ESL?

Students need to update their MyNOVA accounts to take the College ESL assessment. Some important reminders:

  1. Students use the same student ID number (EMPLID).
  2. F-1 visa students, please speak with the ACLI Program Coordinator by emailing

Read the steps listed on the NOVA Application for Admission page to learn more.

For assistance in applying to the College, visit student services at one of these locations:
Alexandria: 5000 Dawes Avenue, Bisdorf (AA) Building, 194.
Annandale: 8333 Little River Turnpike, Mark Warner Building (CA), 113
Manassas: 10950 Campus Drive, Howsmon Hall, Room 110
Medical Education (MEC Springfield): 6699 Springfield Center Drive, 202
Loudoun: 21200 Campus Drive, Reynolds Building, LR 236
Woodbridge: 2645 College Drive, Woodbridge Village 3 (WV-3), Building H

Once students have reapplied to the College, they can email the Testing Center at to make an appointment to take the College ESL assessment online or on campus.  

Learn more about College ESL at NOVA.