Performance in English Skills Courses and Overall Academic Achievement


  • Jean Black



The implementation of ESL courses at universities and colleges has been based on the assumption that a threshold level of English proficiency is necessary for students to succeed at their academic work. The correlation, however, between English language proficiency and academic success has not been clearly established. This paper describes a study undertaken at Brock University which correlates performance of students in ESL courses in spoken and written English with achievement in their other academic courses. The grades received in the ESL courses were correlated with the overall academic average and the major average for the whole group and for each of three degree groups-students completing B.A, RSc., and B.RE. degrees. Analysis of the data revealed a modest positive correlation between performance in written English and the overall and major averages in all groups except the B.RE., in which there was no significant correlation. The grades for the spoken English course failed to correlate significantly with either the overall average or the major average in any of the groups. Pedagogical implications of these surprisingly low correlations are discussed, and suggestions are offered for making skills learned in ESL courses more relevant to the academic needs of students.




How to Cite

Black, J. . . . . . . . . . . (1991). Performance in English Skills Courses and Overall Academic Achievement. TESL Canada Journal, 9(1), 42–56.