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Oral English Proficiency

The Higher Education Instructors Oral English Proficiency Act of 1987 requires oral proficiency in the English language among all classroom instructors at public institutions of higher education in Illinois.

The following procedure has been established to address student concerns about faculty or teaching assistants who may not be communicating effectively through the use of oral English language.

Students should make serious and good-faith attempts to resolve their concerns about an instructor’s oral English language effectiveness before filing a written complaint. The student should meet with the Department/School Chairperson/Director before filing a complaint. The Chairperson/Director should initially obtain enough information about the concern to determine if, indeed, the student is responding to a problem of oral English language effectiveness. If some other matter is involved, then it should be dealt with according to whatever department or university policies are relevant. For example, the Chairperson/Director may determine that a student has not been in the class long enough or needs to make greater efforts to understand the instructor, and in such cases would encourage the student to delay making any formal complaint. In addition, the Chairperson/Director may consider changing the student to another section of the course if the perception of a problem is localized to one or two students.

If, after meeting with the Department/School Chairperson/Director, the student believes his or her concern has not been resolved, then the student should file a written complaint with the Department/School Chairperson/Director. A student must file this complaint within the first 20 class days (10 class days in an eight-week summer session, or 5 class days in a four-week summer session) after the first day of class of the semester.

The faculty member who is the subject of the concern should be informed in writing by the Department/School Chairperson/Director that a complaint has been received. The faculty member should be told the general nature of the complaint, and should be encouraged to respond to the specific concerns of the student. Student anonymity should be preserved. The Chairperson/Director then reports to the Dean that a written complaint has been received, attaching a copy of the student complaint, and that the faculty member has been informed of the nature of the complaint. The faculty member’s response, if available, should also be sent to the Dean.

The Chairperson/Director should also provide the Dean with an initial evaluation of the complaint. Some options might include: (a) Chairperson/Director does not believe that a problem exists; (b) Chairperson/Director obtains opinions of other department faculty or from faculty in other departments/schools with the expertise in the area of oral English language effectiveness (e.g., English, Communication, Speech Pathology/Audiology) and concludes that no problem exists; (c) Chairperson/Director determines that a problem does exist. If the Chairperson/Director determines that a problem exists, then the Chairperson/Director should indicate to the faculty member what University services are available, and also report to the Dean what has been recommended to assist the faculty member and what progress can reasonably be expected. After some agreed upon period, the Chairperson/Director should report back to the Dean on the progress that has been accomplished. The Dean should keep the Provost’s office informed about complaints and the progress made toward solving the problem.


Illinois State University

Office of the University Registrar
Normal, IL 61790-2202

Phone: (309) 438-2188

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