Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS)

The Composition for Multilingual Students program is a University-wide undergraduate program through which non-native speakers of English meet the general education requirements for oral and written communication and the lower- and upper-division written English requirements. View the G.E. Baccalaureate Requirements: Oral and Written Communication for SF State Students (PDF).

Student Group at Sutro Library

Advising Module

The purpose of the Advising Module is to help you evaluate your academic English skills so that you can register for writing courses in the CMS program. After you complete Advising Module, you will see course recommendations - suggested courses you can take in the CMS Program that best meet your individual needs.

Who should complete the Advising Module?

All undergraduate and graduate students who want to fulfill their English writing requirements in the CMS program at SF State should complete the Advising Module. This includes:

  • Multilingual students who have been educated mainly in a language other than English.
  • Multilingual students who were enrolled in ESL classes at the last school they attended in the U.S.
  • Multilingual students who feel they could benefit from taking CMS classes, even though they may have previously taken English classes for native speakers.

What should I do?

Please see the Advising Module website

Registration for CMS Courses

Please complete your Advising Module before the semester begins. As soon as you see the course recommendations, you can sign up online or in-person with the Advising office. At this time, students may also meet with a CMS adviser to discuss their Advising Module course recommendations.

If you have questions, please visit the CMS office (HUM 482) or email us (

We are currently not accepting applications. Please check back to learn more in Spring 2021.

Applicants to the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) part-time teaching pool must have an M.A. degree in TESOL or a related field, and have experience teaching academic writing (composition), academic reading, and grammar for writing.

SF State M.A. TESOL graduate student applicants who will be completing their last semester of course work (ENG 733 and/or ENG 895) during spring or fall semesters may also apply.

All applicants must participate in a screening process that begins with an exam. Applicants who pass the screening exam will be invited for a teaching demo and an interview with the hiring committee, a group of six full-time and part-time faculty. This process takes place annually in April. Successful applicants enter a pool of teachers and are assigned to classes based on seniority and course availability.

Applicants should register for the exam by dropping off or emailing an SF State application form for Temporary Faculty Employment 5 days before the exam to the English Dept. in HUM 488. (The remainder of the application packet is due when the applicant is invited to a teaching demo and interview).

Application Packet

The application packet consists of:

1. Information Sheet (PDF)

2. Temporary Faculty Employment Form (PDF)

3. Reference Letter Template (PDF)

4. Obligation of Staff (PDF)

You can print these forms out or pick up a packet from the Writing Programs Office, HUM 488. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the CMS Program Coordinator.

CMS Teaching Information

Applicants to the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) part-time teaching pool must have an M.A. degree in TESOL or a related field, and have experience teaching academic writing (composition), academic reading, and grammar for writing.

Additionally, an applicant must participate in a screening process that includes an exam and an interview; this process takes place annually in April. Successful applicants enter a pool of teachers and are assigned to classes based on seniority and course availability.

San Francisco State University’s M.A. program in English with a concentration in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) provides training to teach English as a second language in the U.S. and internationally. It is one of the oldest and largest such programs in the country. Graduates of the program teach English to immigrants and international students in community colleges, universities, English language institutes, adult education programs, and community and workplace settings. Completion of the M.A. TESOL degree does not fulfill requirements for K - 12 teacher credentialing in California. SF State’s Graduate College of Education has programs for single-subject and multiple-subject credentials.

Contact the CMS coordinator for more specific information about the position.

Requirements for Admission to the Hiring Pool

  1. Applicants must hold an M.A. in TESOL or a closely related field. Graduate student applicants who will be completing their last semester of coursework may apply. However, such applicants are generally hired only after they have completed their coursework.
  2. Applicants should have university-level CMS teaching experience in the area of writing instruction. (The CMS program at San Francisco State University is primarily a composition program.)
  3. Applicants must have a complete application on file in the CMS program office. The application must include a curriculum vita, three letters of reference, transcripts, an application form, and a statement of purpose.
  4. Applicants must successfully pass the CMS screening exam. Please note that the exam is administered only once a year, in the spring.
  5. Applicants who have passed the screening exam must successfully complete an interview with the CMS committee, a group of six full-time and part-time faculty.

Multilingual Students and Gwar

Who is a Multilingual Student?

A multilingual student is one for whom English is their second language and who most likely do not speak English at home.

What is GWAR?

GWAR stands for Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement. This is a requirement that must be fulfilled by all juniors at all CSUs.

How can I fulfill my GWAR? 

All students can fulfill the GWAR by taking a writing-intensive course in their majors. Visit your department website or office for more information about the GWAR class in your major.

Attention GWAR Instructors

If you have multilingual students in your GWAR class who need writing and grammar support, the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) Program has several options to offer.

English 212

An advanced grammar and editing for writing course, including GWAR. The ENG 212 course offers instruction and practice in editing their writing for grammar accuracy.

English 217

Equivalent to English 216, English 217 offers multilingual students instruction and practice in basic essay writing and research skills. Recommended for ML students in lieu of English 216, or as a review course for those who have completed this requirement, but could use more practice in fundamental writing skills. Students may take this course in preparation for their GWAR, or other upper-division writing-intensive courses.

We encourage you to recommend these courses to your multilingual students who would benefit from writing and language preparation before or during their GWAR course. Students who wish to take one or more of these classes should come by the CMS Office in HUM 482 or email us at

With your recommendation, GWAR students will be able to add a CMS class.

CMS Faculty Contact Information
Name Office Extension E-mail
Chan, Esther HUM 522 83106
Cooper, Barbara HUM 221 87407
Fitzgerald, Maureen HUM 272 83096
Hilbert, Kirsten HUM 232 83144
Kohls, Robert HUM 453 87404
Motai, Lyn HUM 230 83143
Vicar, Lisa HUM 518 83015
Warden, Mary HUM 271 83142

Volunteer in the CMP Program


If you are a M.A. TESOL graduate student you can volunteer to be a Teaching Assistant or Tutor in the CMS program.

Serving as a Teaching Assistant (TA) is required for English 726 and English 732, and is optional for English 707

If you plan to take any of these courses next semester and need to (or want to) work in an ESL class in the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) Program on campus, you should start the process of finding a class and a mentor teacher this semester.

If you wish to work off-campus, consult with the relevant M.A. TESOL course instructor.

Courses you could assist in
CMS Course Description Requirements to serve as TA

ENG 201/202

Accelerated Academic English

Note:  TA’s are selected for the entire academic year.

ENG 204

Academic Literacy Skills

You should be enrolled in or have completed 732.

ENG 209

Writing the First Year


English 201/202: Writing the First Year: Global Perspectives of Multilingual Speakers (Stretch I and II)— 4 units (each semester)

In this special program for freshmen who have just graduated from high school, students participate in a year-long learning community to work intensively on developing and practicing the academic literacy and critical thinking skills needed for success in university coursework. English 201 emphasizes essential skills including academic reading, writing, vocabulary building, and editing techniques. English 202 builds on these skills while focusing on formal academic essay writing.

English 204: Effective Literacy Skills for College — 3 units

Based on the Advising Module recommendation, this course should be taken before English 209 and prepares students who are freshmen (not directly from high school) with the academic literacy, grammar editing, and critical thinking skills needed for success in university course work. Students practice academic reading and writing skills such as annotation summarizing, paraphrasing and outlining, and writing short essays. The students also focus on grammar in written texts. Repeatable for credit.

English 212: Advanced Grammar for Composition — 3 units

Based on the Advising Module recommendation this course should be taken before English 209 and is for students who need to improve the grammatical accuracy of their writing. Students write short papers in class and at home in response to selected readings. Then grammar review is provided on problematic and advanced grammatical structures. Students work individually and in small groups on accuracy and proofreading skills. Repeatable for credit.

English 209: Writing the First Year: Global Perspectives of Multilingual Speakers — 3 units

This course in written communication prepares students for the extended composition and reading tasks at the university. The focus is on the composing process and on writing academic prose. Students read articles, essays or books to improve their critical reading skills as well as to get ideas for their compositions. Students also learn heuristics to help them find topics and develop their ideas in writing. The course includes the composing and revising of short essays with an emphasis on clarity and adequate supporting information. Grammar review is provided on problematic structures. Repeatable for credit.

English 210: Oral Communication — 3 units

This course meets the GE A1 requirement for oral communication and focuses on listening, speaking, and presentation skills. The activities for the course include interviews, small group discussion, whole class discussion, informational and persuasive oral presentations by individuals and by panels, and evaluation of oral presentations. Repeatable for credit.

English 217: Writing the First Year: Language, Culture, and Perspectives of Multilingual Speakers— 3 units

This course focuses on the writing and revision of compositions, in the style and form that is required in university coursework. Instruction is focused on essays that synthesize information from outside texts with the students’ own analysis. Students practice critical thinking through critical reading, argumentation, and making connections between their ideas and those of outside authors. Students finish the semester with a research paper. The structure is reviewed as necessary. Repeatable for credit.


Graduation Credit

A: Classes in both programs fulfill SF State’s written English requirements for graduation and General Education (GE) Written and oral communication requirements. However, classes in the CMS Program are taught by instructors who specialize in teaching courses that address the needs of multilingual speakers of English. The table below shows how certain classes in the two programs correspond to each other (Note: not all classes in both programs are shown in the table).

Multilingual and Native-Speaker Options
Native-speaker options Multilingual options
These courses A2 Written Communication requirement: 
English 104/105 or English 114 Eng 201/202 or English 209
These courses fulfill the GE AE Life Long Learning requirement: 
English 216 Engish 217

A: This depends on the Advising Module recommendation which gives you the chance to choose from several pathways depending on your learning needs. Both pathways provide credit towards graduation. While the decision is yours, after you attend a CMS class, the instructor may suggest support classes. In the case of Composition courses, the instructor may encourage you to take classes in the CMS program if you would be better served by taking classes designed for multilingual students and taught by instructors who specialize in teaching English to multilingual speakers.

A: Students who are interested in switching programs should speak with the CMS/Composition Adviser. There are eligibility requirements for every course offered by the CMS program; thus, it is not possible to register and attend a CMS program course without taking the Advising Module or without being directly advised to take the course. If you feel that the CMS program is a better choice for you, we strongly recommend that you contact the adviser as early as possible.

A: Most colleges have writing or speech courses that students can take to meet the SF State GE written and oral communication requirement. If you took such a course, and the course(s) transferred to SF State and have met the SF State requirement, then you do not have to take courses at SF State. Make sure that your requirements have been met by your first year at SF State.

A: Some universities accept courses taken in SF State’s CMS program. However, you should discuss this question with the admissions office of the institution to which you are transferring. For more information, please visit us in the CMS office in Humanities 482.


A: Whether or not you need to take CMS classes depends primarily on your academic English proficiency and the English classes you have taken in previous institutions. It also depends on your Advising Module recommendation. We also encourage you to meet with a CMS Program adviser as soon as possible by visiting the office in Humanities 482.

A: Your Advising Module recommendation will help you decide which class you should take:

For freshman directly from high school For other freshman and transfer students All students

English 201 (and maybe English 204)

English 202 (and maybe English 212)

English 204 or English 212 

English 209


English 210

English 217

English 217



  1. All new freshmen should plan to attend an orientation session. Visit the New Student Programs website for information about signing up for a session. You will be able to register for many of your classes at the orientation session.
  2. Before you attend an orientation session, complete the Advising Module, so that you have a course recommendation.

A: In the summer, the CMS Program offers about 15 percent of the number of courses and sections that are available in the fall and spring semesters. Certain courses are not offered in the summer semester at all (English 201/202, 204, and 212). We advise against students depending on being able to fulfill required English courses in the summer, due to the limited number of courses offered.

A: Often, students take English 201 and 204 or English 202 and 212 together. For other writing classes, we do not recommend students take more than one class at the same time unless they have been advised by a CMS instructor. You can take  English 210, the oral communication course at the same time as another CMS course. 

A: Students are strongly encouraged to take their required GE written and oral communication courses each semester until they are completed.


A: Whether or not you need to take CMS classes depends primarily on your academic English proficiency, determined by your Advising Module recommendation, and on what requirements you have met through courses at your previous school. We encourage you to meet with an Academic Advisor or speak with a CMS adviser as soon as possible.

A: Program courses are available through the College of Extended Learning (CEL). However, priority is given to SF State undergraduate students who are fulfilling graduation requirements; therefore, few spaces are available for CEL students.

Exchange students may enroll in CMS program classes.

Note: Exchange students and College of Extended Learning students wishing to take CMS courses must complete the Advising Module and see a CMS advisor before enrolling in any course.

A: Yes. The College of Extended Learning offers two unique programs: American Language Institute and English for Professional Purposes.

City College of San Francisco also offers many English classes in two programs: a credit program (where students earn credits toward an academic degree) and a noncredit program (where students can improve their general, non-academic English skills).

Finally, there are many private language schools in the Bay Area.

A: In general, no. Visiting scholars should speak with Professor Priya Abeywickrama in the M.A. TESOL program for more information about taking English classes.

A: Yes, if they take the Advising Module, or under special advising circumstances from their Graduate Advisors. However, priority registration is given to undergraduate students who are fulfilling graduation requirements.

A: Yes, English 670 is designed with graduate students in mind. Students from all disciplines are welcome to sign up. For more information contact the coordinator of the MA TESOL Program (

Note: Graduate students wishing to take CMS classes should see a CMS adviser before enrolling in any course.


A: The Tutoring and Academic Support Center (TASC) provides students with tutors for regularly scheduled sessions throughout the semester, in addition to “drop-in” tutoring. Visit the TASC website for more information about the services they provide to the campus community.