In Sri Lanka, universities offer higher education programs beyond the high school level for students from all over the country. Sri Lankan universities provide necessary training for individuals wishing to enter the professional level and provide unique opportunities for personal enrichment while also preparing students for future careers.

All Sri Lankan universities provide remedial education, special instructions designed to help students catch up to a desired level of academic achievement. The most common remedial education programs focus on developing students’ basic skills in reading, writing and mathematics.

This article focuses on learning English as the Second Language (ESL), one of the remedial education programs in the universities of Sri Lanka. This article is based on the background, reasons, objectives, methods and benefits of the ESL course with regard to the university education in Sri Lanka.

The language in which students are taught is one of the most significant issues in Sri Lankan universities. In the present world, English is the most wildly used language. Learning English provides the opportunity of worldwide job prospects and various other benefits. Even in Sri Lanka many graduates will have a hard time finding employment if they do not become fluent in English.

Taking these facts into consideration, most of the universities in Sri Lanka offer opportunities to learn almost all the disciplines in English.

Therefore the Sri Lankan government has become concerned about the best way to educate university students who are new to the English language. As children from all over the country and from different language backgrounds seek university education, most universities in Sri Lanka have courses organized for students to teach basic English which is often accomplished through an ESL program.

The ESL education programs attempt to remedy insufficient learning in previous academic settings. This program typically involves re-teaching English subject or redesigning lessons to make the instruction clearer or more personalized for individual students. Most of the local universities offer ESL courses as basic-level courses for non academic credit. The objectives of these ESL programs are to increase the academic achievements in reading and writing and also to give a head start for the students to deal with international relationships.

When teaching, the students in the class are limited to a relatively small number of students per teacher. This class size gives teachers more opportunity to respond to the unique needs of individual students. Most ESL classes consist of groups of fewer than 10 students per teacher. In some cases, one-on-one tutoring (one instructor working with one student) can help the student make substantial gains in achievement in a relatively short period of time. This one-on-one tutoring can be especially effective in ESL courses, when working with the weak students.

However, most universities lack the resources to provide instruction on such a personal level.

Though our mother-tongue is Sinhala, as university students learning English can benefit in different ways.

Being a university student, there are many occasions where the students have to interact with international community. And in the present world, English is the chosen language of international communication. And most of the university education is based on researchers and various other methods of gathering information.

English is the commonly used language in books, articles, electronically-stored information and even in the internet. And English a necessity for those students who wish for higher education and scholarships in foreign countries.

Not only inside the university but after graduating when it comes to career options the knowledge and fluency of English can be very helpful. Every professional job needs a good usage of English. To engage in international trade activities, to develop technical skills required in modern industries and for many other opportunities in developing the personal career, need the usage of English.

And the ESL courses can be a benefit for those students who wish to achieve success.

Learning English as a second language in the universities can be useful in many ways as university students interact with many national and international events. Some people have criticized these bilingual programs for not encouraging students to learn English more quickly, or at all. Some fear that learning English will harm the cultural identity of Sri Lanka.

However, these ESL programs act as a great opportunity for rural and poor students who are clever yet are unable to afford or lack of resources, to be successful and, it opens up many and educational opportunities for them.