Writing and Communication Help for Non-Native Speakers

Academic writing is probably the most difficult kind of writing anyone can do. Students have to discuss complex, in-depth ideas; they need to correctly represent source material, even material that seems contradictory; and they must make the information easy for readers to understand… Learning to write like this is hard enough for American students, but for non-native speakers it can seem impossible! An advantage you have if you are reading this page is that you are doing the most useful thing to improve your writing—getting help.

Several units at NDSU provide writing and communication assistance to non-native speakers:

Center for Writers (CFW)

Non-native speakers benefit from our free one-on-one sessions (click here for appointments) with the CFW’s consultants. These benefits include the following:

  1. The individual consulting sessions allow the student and consultant to focus on specific writing difficulties the student has.
  2. The opportunity to meet regularly with a writing consultant gives the student the necessary time to incorporate learning and become an independent writer.
  3. The writing consultants are helpers: they don’t grade students, they assist with what the students need, and they can be helpful cultural guides to the United States and to the American university.

The CFW also offers writing workshops that address different areas in writing, such as writing a first draft, plagiarism, or common grammar errors. The CFW also teaches some graduate writing courses.

Intensive English Language Program (IELP)

The IELP expressly serves students whose first language is not English, and its instructors are all qualified professionals with experience teaching English language learners. The program has developed several courses for graduate students. Below are those taught next spring:

·         LANG 606 (2 cr): Oral Skills for Presentations. This course is designed to help non-native speakers of English speak more effectively and confidently in professional contexts such as research presentations. (This is a great course for preparing to present at NDSU’s 3-Minute Thesis Competition!)

·         LANG 701 (3 cr) and LANG 702 (1 cr) – English Language and Classroom Skills for International GTAS. This course is designed to help international graduate students become effective teaching assistants by developing the language and teaching skills necessary to meet the expectations of undergraduate students at NDSU.

·         LANG 790 (3 cr) – Corpora-based Language Strategies for Literature Reviews. This course will help students build literature reviews by analyzing their own literature research, determining high-frequency vocabulary and collocations in their research field, and employing language strategies to improve paraphrases and summaries of their research interests.

While most of the IELP program courses serve students who are planning to study at NDSU or are conditionally admitted, two courses are available to all NDSU undergraduates next spring:

·         LANG 108 (3 cr) – Issues in American Language and Culture: Designed for students studying abroad, new Americans, or permanent residents, this course focuses on the historical events, political systems, and values that contribute to today’s American culture. It also provides integrated language skills practice.

·         LANG 406 (2 cr): Oral Skills for Presentations. This course is designed to help non-native speakers of English speak more effectively and confidently in professional contexts such as research presentations.

For more information about the Intensive English Language Program, contact its director: Carol Bishop

Conversation English Circle (CEC)

The CEC, which is hosted by the English Club, invites international students from across campus to join in conversations with American students, usually based on a general topic, e.g., hobbies. The group meets Thursday evenings in the Memorial Union (rooms change, so check with the CEC for the exact location). This group provides a relaxed, informal environment in which to practice speaking English.

For more information, check the CEC Facebook page or contact the English Club advisor, Eunice Johnson.

Top of page