University of Michigan library

Academic Innovation

ELT at Michigan— A Staple in the Field

A young female professor smiles and looks out toward her class while holding a textbook and standing in front of a chalkboard with the words "Voice, Tense, and Aspect" visible. The back of a male student's head can be seen in the left foreground.
Photographed by @benji_bear_photography

If there is an ESL course taught at an R1 institution in the United States, the odds are good that it has used a textbook from the English Language Teaching (ELT) list at the University of Michigan. For more than 60 years, University of Michigan Press’s ELT list has served as the publishing arm of the University’s English Language Institute, the first place in the United States to offer English as a Second Language courses.

I cannot think of any other situation in any other university where a Press and a unit have been so closely integrated for so many years. The whole idea of the ELI and \[ELT at] Michigan Press over so many years is such an incredible, pure academic success story.

- Larry Selinker
former ELI Director

This partnership has produced essential textbooks from some of the most well-respected authors in the field. Academic Writing for Graduate Students has been used in 85% of RI institutions in the United States and Canada. Renowned author Keith Folse has published over 30 books under the ELT imprint. In addition, the close relationship between ELT and ELI is unique.

“I cannot think of any other situation in any other university where a Press and a unit have been so closely integrated for so many years,” said former ELI director Larry Selinker during his remarks at the Institute’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2016. “The whole idea of the ELI and Michigan Press over so many years is such an incredible, pure academic success story.”

Now in its 3rd edition, Academic Writing for Graduate Students (known globally as “Swales & Feak,” after authors John M. Swales & Christine B. Feak) has sold nearly 185,000 copies. The book embodies what a Michigan English for Academic Purposes (EAP) book is—one that teaches the skills international students need to get admitted to a university, complete a degree, and establish their voice and identity as a junior scholar in their field.

Without these texts, many students would not publish the research that launches their academic careers, let alone finish the dissertation that gets them hired or produce the first scholarly monograph and that ultimately gets them tenure.

- Kelly Sippell
ELT Manager

“Without these texts, many students would not publish the research that launches their academic careers, let alone finish the dissertation that gets them hired or produce the first scholarly monograph and that ultimately gets them tenure,” said ELT Manager Kelly Sippell.

The ELT list will continue to have an impact on L2 publishing, the field of second language writing, and graduate student development.