English Language Institute

UH Hilo Home > Academics

American Education, Hawaiian Values

Graduation leisAloha/Welcome

Studying English in Hawaii offers an amazing experience to students. The Big Island, where UH Hilo is located, has 10 of the world’s 13 climate zones, an active volcano, a tropical rainforest and a 4,000 meter mountain. It is called a living laboratory, so students are able to do hands-on study and research in this unique natural environment. In addition, Hilo is a safe town with a long history of cultures living together.

This multicultural setting creates a warm and friendly community, with warm weather and delicious food from around the world. As you walk down the street, people will smile and say hello. We give students many opportunities to become a part of the Hawaii community, so you can create life-long friendships. The aloha spirit makes Hawaii a special place to make your second home.


One of our philosophies is that you will improve your English most quickly if you have many opportunities to meet native-speakers of English. Students who are enrolled in ESL classes are regular UH Hilo students, so they can take select undergraduate classes at the same time as ESL courses and they have access to all of the UH Hilo facilities. There is on-campus housing with 24-hour security, so by living and taking classes with Americans, your English will improve quickly! UH Hilo also has an International Student Services office that will help you with questions about academics, immigration and student life, in addition to offering many cultural activities throughout the year. There is also a Student Life Center where students can exercise and take trips around the island on the weekends.

The classes at UH Hilo are unique in that although we are a public university, the average class has only 22 students. Professors know their students and are available to answer questions or offer extra help. The level of academic rigor is high. In 2013, students from Computer Science won the national technology competition, the Microsoft Imagine Cup. In 2012, students from Political Science won the highest honor of Outstanding Delegation at the international Model United Nations competition. Every year, students from Astronomy, Geology and Marine Science work alongside scientists from all over the world who come to study Hawaii’s stars, volcano and ocean. UH Hilo offers an amazing education to students in all different majors, and welcomes international students into the campus ʻohana.


The English Language Institute (ELI) provides English language instruction to non-native speakers of English to prepare them for university study. The ELI offers classes in reading, writing, grammar, listening/speaking and pronunciation. Our courses are designed to prepare students for the types of assignments and activities that they will be expected to do in an American university.The ELI offers classes at the intermediate, high-intermediate and advanced levels. The ELI does not have a beginning level. If you have below intermediate skills, it may take you longer to complete your ESL courses.

Our faculty all have advanced degrees in teaching English as a second language, plus years of experience in both teaching and living in different countries. Most importantly, the instructors truly love teaching, so classes are engaging and challenging. You will not only learn from your instructors, however, but also from your classmates. Studying with other students from all over the world will allow you to learn about different cultures around the world as you improve your English.

The ELI is accredited by CEA, the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation, meaning that we have met the very high standards set by the Commission. The kākoʻo you will receive by taking classes at the ELI will lead to success in your university classes.

Students at the Beach

Useful Links

Useful Links
Tuition and Fees International Student Services & Intercultural Education
International Undergraduate Student Admission Exchange Students-Center for Global Education and Exchange
Online Application International Student Association
Advising for International Students Hawaiʻi Community College Intensive English Program
Campus Visits Hilo and the Big Island

Alternative format available by contacting the ADA Coordinator. UH Hilo is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.