English Language Issues
In the beginning it may be difficult to adjust to the speed and accent of American speakers. In most cases, with a little time, students’ skills improve. In many countries, English language classes focus more on the written word and less on oral and aural skill development. Seeing improvement in your skills and becoming more comfortable takes time and practice. Alternatively, you may be experiencing a crisis of confidence rather than actual language difficulties. The more opportunities you find to use the language, the quicker you will overcome this crisis.
How to address specific weaknesses
- If your listening skills are weak, continue taking notes in class, but consider taping lectures or borrowing another student's notes (this can be a good way to make contact with U.S. students as well as provide a means for checking your comprehension). Spend time listening to the radio and/or TV even if you can not follow everything being said.
- If your speaking skills are weak, you might benefit from participating in a conversation partner program (Tandem Plus or Partners in English). Join a student group or another club based on your interests. Participate in a recreational sports team.
Join an ISSS discussion group, go to the Small World Coffee Hour, sign up for a trip through Outdoor opportunities, or participate in volunteer opportunities. Living with roommates who do not speak your language can also provide you with speaking opportunities.
- If you have difficulties with writing, visit Student Writing Support or seek help from a tutor. English as a Second Language classes are offered on campus and address each of these areas. What is essential if you want to see improvement in your language skills is to participate in activities that allow you to practice English every day. The idea of speaking English with Americans you do not know may make you nervous, but remind yourself what you can gain from improving your English and what you will lose if you do not.
- The Minnesota English Language Program (MELP) provides courses in English as a second language that can help non-native English speakers improve English reading, writing, and speaking skills, 612-624-1503.
- International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) offers cross-cultural discussion groups, the Small World Coffee Hour, Workshop for Success, and a number of other programs. Contact the ESL adviser, Theresa GanglGhassemlouei, 612-624-5225.
- Student Writing Support in provides undergraduate and graduate students (some staff have experience with non-native speakers of English) with writing assistance.
- The English Composition Department offers 3 graduate level courses geared towards non-native English speakers that focus on writing and presentation skills. Contact Sheryl Holt, 612-624-4524.
- The Center for Teaching and Learning Services provides training for teaching assistants and also operates the English Partners Program. Contact Caroline Rosen, 612-625-3017
- The CLA Language Center provides the conversation program, Tandem Plus. Call 612-626-6050 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
**NOTE: Due to visa regulations, international student who are having difficulties in a course because of English should not drop below full-time without first meeting with an ISSS adviser in 190 Humphrey Center.
Please contact ISSS for more specific information.