Prelude Curriculum

This four credit course is designed around an immersion-style learning experience and is intended to strengthen English language skills, prepare students for effective university study, and acquaint them with various aspects of North American culture.

We will draw on a wide variety of learning activities, some inside the classroom and some outside. For this class to be meaningful and helpful for language development and learning about a culture, participatory learning will be integrated into the overall curriculum as much as possible.

  • To become comfortable with passively communicating in English, both in reading and listening
  • To become comfortable with actively communicating in English, both in writing and speaking
  • To develop stronger writing proficiency in organizing and developing ideas in English into a coherent text
  • To develop stronger competence in English writing style and become more capable of communicating finer nuances of meaning with greater coherence
  • To achieve higher-level reading comprehension skills, e.g. reading for main idea, critical reading, inference
  • To strengthen English vocabulary, both in specific words and in using strategies for determining word meanings on their own, i.e. context, word structure, dictionaries
  • To understand the significance of context in one’s choice of words and speaking and writing style
  • To strengthen competence in speaking (discussion and more formal presentation)

Reading comprehension

  • Drawing on context
  • Reading for main idea, summarizing
  • Making inferences
  • Analysis and synthesis
  • Evaluation and critical reading
  • Phrase and sentence-level comprehension (“chunking”)

Writing: macro (essay) level

  • Personal essay
  • Explanatory writing
  • Argumentative essay
  • Short research paper
  • Journal

Writing: micro (sentence and word) level

  • Daily Oral Language
  • Grammar review, sentence-combining and sentence reduction


  • Practice in context (sentence-level and beyond)
  • Review of major prefixes, roots, and suffixes—and learning additional ones
  • Mastery of a group of commonly-used words
  • Discussion of idioms and learning selected idioms
  • Use of effective diction in writing


Students will be responsible for providing the following materials:

  • Writing instruments (pens and pencils)
  • Notebook (writing paper for in-class assignments or note-taking)
  • Backpack or shoulder bag to contain class materials
  1. Reading assignments – Students will complete selected readings prior to class time. Students must be ready to discuss reading assignments in the context of the theme or topic.
  2. Written assignments – Students will complete weekly written assignments, including essays, reaction papers, and in-class assignments utilizing vocabulary from the week’s topic.
  3. Oral assignments – Students will complete weekly oral presentation assignments. Typically the student will present their assignment to a small group in class on a pre-determined designated day. 
  4. Class attendance and participation – Students are expected to attend each class period. Any missed attendance day must be due to unexpected illness or arranged through prior approval of the program director.

Additionally, when we say “Class participation is expected”, what does this mean? It is more than physical presence in your seat. It is more than a “can you repeat that” comment in class. It is more than brief engagement on an in-class exercise and leaving as soon as possible. Students will engage with the material, challenge themselves and each other, asking thoughtful questions, stimulating new ideas, and actively explore the topic reaching for a greater understanding of planned topics each and every week. Students will evaluate their own contributions at the end and the instructors will consider the student's perspective in the final judgment for class participation credit.

Sample Schedule

This schedule is intended to give an idea of what Prelude programming will look like. Exact details and schedules will be sent to enrolled students prior to the beginning of the course.

Arrival and orientation to campus – getting settled! 

Life on campus and in the Fargo-Moorhead community

  1. Housing expectations and dorm life
  2. Expectations for timely arrivals and class time
  3. Knowledge about regulations and safety

Goal setting

  1. Getting acquainted and sharing
  2. Interviewing activity
  3. Core groups designation
  4. Goal-setting for the course
  5. Preview Oral Composition assignments
  6. Preview reading assignments
  7. Preview journaling activity assignments

Culture bound issues of health and safety

  1. Activity
  2. Oral presentation of ideas in small groups
  3. Guest speaker: healthcare professional from the community
  4. Discussion of cultural ideas regarding how, why, and what we do to “keep safe” and “be healthy”
  5. Readings assignment
  6. Writing assignment
  7. Vocabulary

Baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie

  1. Guest speaker: Donald “Bucky” Burgau, baseball coach for Concordia College and the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks
  2. Journaling
  3. Oral composition presented in small groups
  4. Sentence-level study: Daily Oral Language
  5. Self-assessment of language goals: analysis of first 5 days, and goal-setting for week 2
  6. Reading assignment
  7. Writing assignment
  8. Vocabulary

Weekend field trips and excursions will complement week’s assignments and topics. There will be down time for rest and leisure.

FOOD, glorious food!

  1. Reading assignment
  2. Writing assignment
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Sentence-level study: sentence combining
  5. Food vocabulary activity!
  6. Oral composition
  7. Journal discussion
  8. Sentence-level study: sentence-combining and Daily Oral Language (DOL)
  9. Vocabulary study

Food traditions and regional differences (Thanksgiving dinner) 

  1. Reading assignment
  2. Discussion of reading assignments
  3. Sentence-level study: sentence combining and DOL
  4. Vocabulary study
  5. Writing assignments
  6. Coffee House Culture: Study time in core groups (evening activity)

Ethics of consumption

  1. Discussion of reading assignment
  2. Journal time – self-assessments for meeting learning goals
  3. Writing assignment
  4. Sentence-level study: sentence-structure and mechanical errors, DOL
  5. Vocabulary study
  6. Reading assignment preview for next day (guest speaker/author coming to class)

Writing and the region; historical perspective on faith communities

  1. Discussion of reading assignments from W. Scott Olsen, “107 Miles West of Fargo,” Guest speaker: W. Scott Olsen, writer and professor of English at Concordia
  2. Reflection exercise on guest speaker
  3. Vocabulary study
  4. Hands-on writing (journal): writing about a picture: 1) objective description and 2) subjective description
  5. Sentence-level study
  6. Small group presentations

Nature and the outdoors

  1. Outdoors (journal) writing: trip to Prairie Home Cemetery
  2. Discussion of reading assignments from America Now: Climate Crisis
  3. Reading assignment
  4. Vocabulary study
  5. Assessment: each student does a written assessment of their progress in language development and the effectiveness of the course to this point (open- ended).
  6. Sentence-level study
  7. Self-assessment: Journaling activity; oral compositions to date; goal-setting for second half of ELL experience

Weekend field trips and excursions will complement week’s assignments and topics. There will be down time for rest and leisure.

Law Enforcement

  1. Written composition
  2. Oral presentation
  3. Vocabulary study
  4. Sentence-level study
  5. Reading assignments in America Now (Education and Achievement unit)
  6. Guest speaker: Sergeant from the police force

Government and legal system

  1. Government vocabulary and legal system in America
  2. Journaling assignment
  3. Coffee House culture – study night
  4. Written composition

Business and work

  1. Readings
  2. Written assignment
  3. Vocabulary study
  4. Possible tour of local business (Microsoft, a small business, or a bank)

Agriculture and the role of farming in our region

  1. Farm tour
  2. Readings relevant to topic
  3. Vocabulary work
  4. Sentence-combining activity
  5. Journaling

ummer fun!

  1. Readings relevant to topic
  2. Garage sales – what IS that anyway?
  3. Journaling activity (after the ‘garage sale tour’)
  4. Oral and Written assessments – goal-setting for final week of ELL

Weekend field trips and excursions will complement week’s assignments and topics. There will be down time for rest and leisure. See below.

Students will be given an opportunity for some choice in the final week’s schedule. Readings and assignments will be chosen accordingly.

Monday - Wednesday
Each day will include some of the following activities

  1. Journaling
  2. Sentence-level study
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Reading assignments
  5. Oral presentation

Final class day

  1. Reading assessment
  2. Final oral presentations in small groups
  3. Written assessment
  4. Journal activity
  5. Assessments of program

Friday - Wrap up and celebrate. Final Banquet preparations (Determination of program depends on individual participants)


Those who have been accepted as matriculating students at Concordia College will attend for $1,700 (cost of room and board). This fee has already been factored into your comprehensive tuition, so no additional payments will be necessary.


Class will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Students should plan to arrive between Sunday, July 30 and Wednesday, Aug. 2. Flights should be booked in and out of the Fargo (North Dakota) International Airport (airport code: FAR).