ALI Student Handbook

To download a PDF of the handbook, click here.

Revised October 2019

General Information

ALI Mission Statement

The Institute’s mission is to offer comprehensive English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) instruction for academic, personal or professional purposes as well as language acquisition and cross-cultural classes and seminars. In addition, the Institute aims to provide students with an understanding of U.S. culture and values, particularly within the educational environment, while acknowledging and valuing students’ own cultures and languages.

About the ALI

The Applied Language Institute (ALI) is the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program for the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). It’s a language program that feels like family and shows you the real heart of America! Whether studies are for personal, academic or professional purposes, these classes are designed for success in English fluency and for your cultural enrichment.

Our Intensive English program offers 20-25 hours of instruction per week. The teaching and administrative staff are friendly, supportive, and understanding of the needs of international students in the United States. All have studied another language and have lived abroad, so they know what it’s like to be somewhere completely different from home.

ALI Administrative Staff

Director Jeremy Slagoski, PhD 816-235-5399
Associate Director Adam Shoemaker 816-235-5436
Academic Advisor Blair Lacy 816-235-1149
Scholarship Coordinator Elisa Day 816-235-5435
Student Support Specialist Chelsey Butts 816-235-5405

ALI Website

Important Phone Numbers

UMKC – Main Number 816-235-1000
ALI Main Office 816-235-1233
ISAO 816-235-1113
Campus Police 816-235-1515
Police Emergency 911
IT Call Center (computer help) 816-235-2000

Academic Calendar

ALI Semester Calendar:
UMKC Academic Calendar:

Email / UserID

You will receive instructions on how to set up your online accounts/passwords in your admission packet. You will also receive email instructions a few weeks before your arrival. If you have trouble, contact the ALI for assistance.  Please check your UMKC email daily to ensure that you receive necessary communications from instructors, the ALI, ISAO, and UMKC.

Campus ID/UMKC One Card

To obtain a campus ID, also known as One Card, please go to the Student Union Room 327.  You will need a valid government issued photo ID (such as your passport) and your UMKC student ID number.

Acronym Guide

UMKC University of Missouri – Kansas City
ALI Applied Language Institute
ISAO International Student Affairs Office
ESL English-as-a-Second-Language
GPA Grade Point Average

Pathway (Understanding Holds)

Pathway is the UMKC online system for enrolling in classes and many other important services.  You can also view Holds that might prevent you from enrolling:

ISAO Holds


You must finish immigration check-in. Contact ISAO. No registering for classes allowed until check-in is complete.
Every student with an F-1 visa has an I-20 hold, which prevents registration for the semester after your I-20 expires.

You can see the start term of the hold by clicking on it.  If you extend your I-20, ISAO will move the start term to allow registration.

New student who is required to take English placement exam.  No registering for classes allowed until test is taken.

UMKC Holds

New student who needs to set-up their Pathway account and finish E-Consent *including Statement of Financial Responsibility (SFR).* No registering for classes allowed until SFR is complete.


Cashier’s Holds

Payment is still owed to the Cashier’s. Contact Cashier’s Office. No registering for classes allowed until your bill is paid.

ALI Holds

Current ALI student who has not completed the English requirements.  Prevents enrollment in academic classes.  ALI removes hold and replaces with “IAL” hold (see below) when student finishes required English classes.


Conditionally admitted student who has finished some of their required English classes but not all.  Allows simultaneous enrollment in ESL and academic classes.
Student has completed all English requirements.  Cleared from ESL to enroll in all academic classes.  Positive service indicator.

Pathway can be accessed at
More information about Pathway can be found at


Canvas is a cloud-based Learning Management System that provides an online space where instructors can communicate with students, post assignments and readings, and keep students informed about their grades.  Canvas can be easily accessed from the UMKC home web page or by going to

For Canvas technology support, contact UMKC Instructional Technology:

Phone:  816-235-6700                                    Email:                         Website:

Educational System Differences

Most university classrooms in the United States use a “Learner-Centered” approach to teaching.  However, many universities around the world use a “Teacher-Centered” approach. The educational system in your home country may be very different from that of the United States.

This table shows some of the differences.  The “Learner-Centered” approach in the last column is common in the United States.

Class Participation

  • Your opinion matters — share your knowledge
  • Speak directly and confidently
  • Be prepared – with readings, personal stories, and experiences
  • It’s okay to disagree with the teacher – do it politely

Course Syllabi

What is a Syllabus

A syllabus is an outline and plan of topics to be covered throughout your class during that semester.

How to Use a Syllabus

You can use the syllabus to find important, specific information, such as:

  • How, when, and where to contact the teacher
  • A schedule of test dates and dates that assignments are due
  • The course description
  • The grading policy
  • The classroom rules
  • The university rules
  • Expected student outcomes
  • Required textbook(s)

Classroom Etiquette

 Values Americans Live By, by L. Robert Kohls (1984)

All individuals are different, but these 13 values below, originally stated by L. Robert Kohls, are very common in U.S. culture:

  1. Personal Control Over the Environment – We believe we have the right to alter nature for our own purposes and to use control over the natural world to the level we are able; fate is in our hands.
  2. Change is good – Change is good and is associated with progress and improvement and is considered important to development.
  3. Time & Its Control is important – Time is considered an important service and needs to be used wisely, leading to emphasis on time management and obeying to schedules.
  4. Equality & Fairness – There is a central belief in the basic equality of opportunity for human beings and equal protection under the law, as well as equal social treatment.
  5. Individualism & Privacy – Each person is considered a unique individual and a high value is placed on personal style and action. Privacy is valued as necessary time to one’s self and is often carefully protected.
  6. Self-help – Success is based upon what one does for oneself, and getting ahead requires individual effort.
  7. Competition & Free Creativity – Competition is viewed as natural and positive and free enterprise is the preferred economic system to help this process.
  8. Future Direction – Belief that “the best is yet to come” makes Americans focus on the future rather than the past or present; we generally have happy beliefs.
  9. Action/Work Participation – Active participation and planning is seen as useful. “Don’t just stand there, do something” is a basic American attitude. One’s identity is created from what one does for a living. Busy is good.
  10. Informality – Importance is on a casual approach to many things including social interactions, clothes, and communication styles.
  11. Directness, Openness, Honesty – Honesty is thought to be proved by the amount of open and truthful discussion involved. Honesty is connected with a certain directness and openness.
  12. Wisdom & Usefulness – “What works” is valued, truthful assessments preferred to moral thoughts, and making things “better” and “faster” celebrated.
  13. Materialism – Buying goods and services is a natural reward for hard work


It is important to show equal respect to all your instructors and to all your fellow students.


Attendance is required, even if your teacher does not give you a grade for attendance.  Attendance is useful to you, the student, as it will help you learn English.  It is also a sign of respect for your teacher and for the other students.

Time in U.S. Culture

It is very important to be “on time” to class and appointments.  Being “on time” to class means being in your seat with your books open and ready to learn at the time that class begins.  In other words, you should arrive in class (or to appointments) a few minutes early.


  • Grades are never negotiated.
  • Grades are earned, not given
  • Each student earns grades individually – there is no competition among other students of grades or performance in a U.S. classroom
  • Grades are based on each student’s individual performance and understanding of topic.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work and using it as yours without giving them proper credit.  In your classes you will learn the proper way to give credit for any ideas or words you borrow from another source.  However, you must never take anyone else’s words or ideas without making the original source clear.
Also, students must complete their own work.  It is never acceptable to have another individual do your work for you.  It is a form of cheating.


  • In the U.S., writing is the preferred method of communication.
  • Email is best when communicating with your teacher
  • Emails should be polite.
  • Teachers are available during their office hours
  • Office hours are used for:
    • Talking to your teacher about an assignment or exams
    • One–on–one time to review classroom topics for more understanding
    • Questions

ALI Policies

Placement Procedures

When students first arrive at the ALI, they are given a series of evaluations to determine English proficiency in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.  Based on these evaluations, students are placed in an appropriate level.  During the first week of class, students are further reevaluated to ensure the accuracy of the placement.

How to Appeal a Placement

Students are placed in a level based on placement tests or previous production in a previous semester, including all reading, writing, listening and speaking tests, demonstrated to several experienced English language professors that the student’s English language ability was appropriate for the particular level.  Students should take into account that the first week or so of class usually begins with a review and will, thus, become more challenging as the semester develops. After understanding all of this, if the student still believes that he or she has been placed in too high or too low of a level, the student should speak to the instructor of the course during the first week he or she attends class.  Please do this before or after class or during the instructor’s office hours, not during class time.

The instructor will assess the student’s proficiency during class to determine whether he or she has been placed appropriately.  The determination is based solely on current English proficiency, not by grades in previous courses or a desire to enter academics quickly.  If the instructor believes that the student belongs in another level, the instructor will speak with the student and the instructor of the other level, and the Academic Advisor to initiate the process of a level change.

Students may not retake the initial placement exams.  Reassessment during the first week is a normal part of the placement process.

If, after discussing the issue of placement with the instructor, the student believes that he or she is still not in the proper level, the student may speak with the Associate Director, Adam Shoemaker.

Level changes are only considered if the student’s skills are not the appropriate match for the level.  Level changes are not made based on a preference for a higher level or a need to get into academics as soon as possible.  If a student were to be placed in a level that does not match his or her English proficiency, it would only slow the process of language learning and make progress more difficult.

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend each session of each class for which they are registered. Full attendance includes arriving early enough for class to be at one’s desk and prepared to participate when class begins.

Students are not graded on attendance; however, if a student does not come to class, he or she will miss assessments that are graded:  assignments, tests, quizzes and other in-class demonstrations of proficiency.  Missing these assessments will result in a lower grade.  Some instructors will take a participation grade, so if a student does not come to class, then this grade will suffer.

Students are not penalized for excused absences, which include:  absences due to illness of the student, illness of an immediate family member for whom the student must care, death of an immediate family member, religious observance (where the nature of the observance prevents the student from being present during class), representation of UMKC in an official capacity, and other compelling circumstances beyond the student’s control. Students seeking an excused absence must provide documentation upon request to substantiate the excuse.

If a student misses an assignment due to an excused absence, he or she should speak to the instructor about making up the missed assignment.  It is the student’s responsibility to make this request (and to complete the work in a reasonable amount of time), not the instructor’s.  Keep in mind that there may be some assessments (teacher observation of your performance during group work, for instance) that cannot be made up even with an excused absence.

Making Satisfactory Progress in Your Studies

If a student is planning to enter UMKC to study in a non-ESL academic program, it is important to check with that department.  Some departments require students to maintain a certain Grade Point Average (GPA).  Failing to maintain the required GPA might prevent one from being accepted into a program of study.  See also University Policy on Academic Probation:


How Progress is Monitored

During the semester, your instructors will give you a variety of assessments to determine your progress in learning English.  These may include tests, quizzes, essays, presentations, group projects, and more.  Your instructor will evaluate your assessments and provide you feedback so that you can know how you are progressing in the course.

Homework and Attendance

Attending class regularly will lead to increase learning, which will result in better grades, but attendance itself is not graded.  Your instructors may choose to evaluate and grade homework assignments, but students do not receive a grades simply for completing homework.

Grading Procedures

Grades are a measure of a student’s progress in learning the Outcomes in the course. Grades are based on direct measures of performance (see “Assessment” above) not indirect measures such as showing up for class or completing homework (though these are very important!).  Because grades are measures of a student’s abilities, a student’s grade is used to determine whether he or she will be promoted to the next level or be able to exit the program (see Promotion above).

Grading Scale

“+” or “-” are given at the discretion of the instructor.  There is NO “A+” in the College of Arts and Sciences.  “A” is the highest grade possible.

Incomplete Grades

An instructor may assign the grade of I (incomplete) to students who have been unable to complete the work of the course because of illness or serious reasons beyond their control. An incomplete grade is appropriate only when enough work in the course has been completed for students to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling in the course or attending additional classes. The work must be completed within one calendar year or the incomplete grade will automatically change to an F. Students should not re-enroll in a class for which they earned an incomplete.

Promotion to the Next Level

To be promoted to the next level, a student must pass the current level with a C grade or higher.  Grades are based on students’ performance on the student learning outcomes for each course.

Successfully Finishing the Program

When a student has passed all of the level 4 classes (Grammar, Writing, Reading, and Listening/Speaking) with a grade of C or better, then he or she has successfully completed the ALI intensive English program.

How to Appeal a Grade

If a student believes they have received an incorrect or unfair grade for an assignment or for a course and wants to appeal it, the student must follow the following steps:

  1. The student should first discuss the grade fully with the instructor of the course. For course grades, this must be done within six weeks after the beginning of the next regular academic semester (per UMKC policy).
  2. After talking with the instructor, if the student feels that the issue is not resolved, he or she may discuss the grade with the Associate Director or the Academic Advisor.
  3. If, after talking with one of these individuals, the issue is still not resolved, the instructor should make an appointment to speak with the Director of the Applied Language Institute.
  4. If the issue is still not resolved, the student may appeal to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences ( This can only be done, though, if the issue is unfair treatment.  You cannot appeal your grade to the Dean simply because you do not like your grade.  The University defines unfair grading as any of the following:
  • The assignment of a grade to a particular student on some basis other than the performance in the course
  • The assignment of a grade to a particular student according to more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in the course
  • The assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the instructor’s previously announced standards as stated on the course syllabus.

ALI Grades Day

On the last Friday of each semester, the ALI holds “ALI Grades Day”.  All ALI students are required to attend. Students receive a grade day checklist, their attendance/completion certificate, and their grade report.  Students go over the grade day checklist with their instructors, check their UMKC holds, and register for next semester with the Academic Advisor.  This is the last opportunity of the semester that students can speak directly with their teachers about their performance in class.

Summer Semester Intensity

Summer semesters last 8 weeks instead of the usual 16 weeks, but they cover the same amount of material.  If you decide to study during the summer, you should be prepared to spend more time in the classroom, but also to spend more time than usual outside of the classroom in studying.

Returning on Time for the Following Semester

The first week of class is very important.  It is necessary that you arrive in the United States at least a few days before the semester begins so that you can be prepared for the first day of class.  If you return late, you will miss the initial week of class, when instructors re-evaluate students’ placement and consider requests to change a student’s level.

Understanding Immigration Regulations

Immigration regulations can be very complex, but it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that you understand and follow them.  If you have any questions about immigration regulations, please contact ISAO (International Student Affairs Office).

How to File a Complaint

If a student has an issue with an individual at the ALI (student, faculty, or administrator), he or she must follow the following steps:

  1. If the issue is related to discrimination or sexual harassment, the student should bring the issue directly to the UMKC Office of Affirmative Action.

UMKC Office of Affirmative Action
5115 Oak Street
212 Administrative Center
Kansas City, MO 64110

  1. Otherwise, the student should first speak with the person directly responsible for that issue (for Homestay issues, speak with the Student Support Specialist; for class issues, speak with the instructor; for other academic issues, speak with the Academic Advisor).
  2. After talking with the individual, if the student feels that the issue is not resolved, he or she may meet with the Associate Director.
  3. If, after talking with one of these individuals, the issue is still not resolved, the instructor should make an appointment to speak with the Director of the Applied Language Institute.
  4. If the issue is still not resolved, the student may appeal to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in writing.


The ALI offers tutoring services to students who are in need of additional English instruction or support.  There are two types of tutoring services that students can utilize.

Supplemental Tutoring

An instructor may recommend a student to receive 5 free hours of supplemental tutoring if the instructor identifies a student in need of additional English support.  The student must:

  1. Regularly be coming to class
  2. Demonstrate good work habits
  3. Have a willingness to learn

1-1 Tutoring

A student may also enroll in the ALI’s tutoring course, ENGL 100S.  A student can take 1 or more credits of ENGL 100S, depending on how many hours of tutoring they need in a semester.  If the student is interested in enrolling in this course, he or she should contact the Academic Advisor to discuss their availability and goals of the tutoring sessions.  The Academic Advisor will find a tutor that best matches the student’s schedule and needs.

Proficiency Scale and Interpretation for ALI Levels

For the proficiency scale and interpretation for ALI levels, see


Housing Options

At UMKC there are a variety of housing options: homestay (staying with an American family), Residence Halls, On-Campus Apartments, and Off-Campus Housing. For more information, please visit the ALI Housing website at:

How the ALI can Help

If you are interested in a homestay, please contact the Student Support Specialist at the Applied Language Institute.  Phone: 816-235-1233. Email:

How to File a Housing Complaint

The Student Support Specialist can help students with any issues related to the homestay program.  Issues with general UMKC housing (dormitories and apartments) are not handled by the ALI, but by the Director of Residential Life.  However, if a student needs assistance or advice in dealing with Residential Life, the Student Support Specialist is happy to help when possible.

Other Resources

Cashier’s Department

The Cashier’s Department is where payments are made for tuition and other fees.  Their website ( provides information about payment due dates, estimating fees, refunds, and many other financial issues. The Cashier’s Department is located in the Administrative Center at 5115 Oak Street. Phone: 816-235-1365


The Edgar L. & Rheta A. Berkley Child and Family Development Center at UMKC is an early childhood school for children of students.  Visit their website or call 816-235-2600 for information about tuition and enrollment.  Be advised that there is often a waiting list for enrollment.

There are many other private childcare facilities in Kansas City.  You can find them by searching the internet or talking with other students.  The Applied Language Institute does NOT endorse or recommend any particular childcare facility.

Computer Labs

This is a list of the student general use computer labs and their locations.  Please visit to view hours and locations.

Academic Advising

Students in need of Academic Advising should contact the ALI Academic Advisor.

Counseling Services

UMKC Counseling Services works to support the psychological health and wellbeing of students.  A variety of confidential counseling services are available to students.  (Confidential means that your visit to the counseling center and anything you say there will be private.)  To make an appointment call 816-235-1635.  For more information, visit

Food (Where to Eat)

UMKC Dining Services provides food on campus (see  Students can purchase a meal plan from UMKC Dining Services.  For restaurants located near UMKC with reviews, visit:

Health Insurance

All international students on an F-1, F-2 or J-1 visa are required to purchase UMKC health insurance as part of the enrollment and registration process unless they have a waiver from the University.   For more information, see


ISAO is the International Student Affairs Office.  ISAO provides orientation and advising on immigration regulations and other issues of importance to international students.  ISAO is located in the Student Success Center (5000 Holmes Street) on the Ground Floor (G-04) with an entrance on the North side of the building.  Phone: 816-235-1113.  Email:  Web:


The main UMKC library, the Miller-Nichols Library, provides access to books, magazines, journals, study areas, computer labs, and more. For more information on the Miller-Nichols and other UMKC Libraries please visit


There is no free parking on campus day or night.  To park on campus, permits may be ordered in the Parking Operations Office, 5115 Oak Street, Suite 221.  See for more information.

Student Health & Wellness Center

The Student Health and Wellness Center offers student a wide range of medical services.  The Student Health and Wellness Center is located at 5110 Oak St., 2nd floor of the Brookside 51 building.  Visit their website to make an appointment or walk-in clinic times are Tuesday and Thursday mornings 8:30am-noon.  Website:

Student ID / UMKC One Card Uses

With your UMKC One Card (student ID), you can

  • ride the KC metro buses for FREE
  • print in campus libraries and computer labs
  • eat at dining service locations
  • check out materials at the campus library
  • attend UMKC sporting events
  • get discounts at local and national shops and movie theaters


The UMKC bookstore is located in the Student Union building or online at  You will receive the book list from the Academic Advisor in your first advising meeting.  You can print your book list online from the bookstore website.

Writing Studio

The UMKC Writing Studio provides free peer (other students) assistance with writing for students. The Writing Studio helps undergraduate and graduate students with any stage of their writing.

The Writing Studio accepts walk-ins (no appointment), or you can make an appointment in advance.  816-235-1146 or

Disability Services

If you are a UMKC student with a documented disability, Student Disability Services can help you get the support you need to succeed.  You will need to establish an Accommodation Plan:

  1. Call 816-235-5696 and set up an appointment for an accommodation planning meeting. If you are a distance learning student we can set up an appointment to conduct the accommodation planning meeting over the phone.
  2. Complete the Student Information form and bring it to your scheduled meeting. If you prefer, you may complete the form during the accommodation planning meeting.
  3. Provide documentation of your disability from a qualified evaluator. Review our guidelines for appropriate documentation.

Further Assistance or Questions

If students have any further questions, they are always welcome to contact the ALI at 816-235-1233, via email at, or visit our offices in person at 5301 Rockhill Road.