Enhancing Teaching at Carnegie Mellon contact us
Intercultural Communication Center Language Training
In addition to providing specific language techniques and cultural information, ICC classes provide an opportunity for language practice and feedback (crucial to the development of a second language). As such, our workshops and seminars function much like "studio classes" or "labs", so many students have found it useful to attend sessions multiple times.

The following link provides guidelines to help students better understand what is expected of participants in ICC workshops and seminars.
Classes
Workshops
Seminars

Warner Hall 308
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
Office: (412) 268-4979
email:
eslhelp@andrew.cmu.edu

  Classes

Classes are offered as 7-week credit mini-courses, and meet twice a week, one and a half hours per session

Language and Culture for Teaching, 99-452, 3 units 
helps nonnative English speakers begin to develop the skills needed to be successful as teaching assistants (TAs). Students will gain a better understanding of the US/ Carnegie Mellon classroom and culturally appropriate teaching techniques, and be better prepared to take on the role of "instructor". Students will also learn how to better communicate their knowledge and expertise to learners by: 1) working on aspects of pronunciation crucial for the classroom, 2) developing an awareness of key aspects of teaching fluency, 3) having frequent opportunities to practice building aspects of teaching fluency, and 4) learning to compensate effectively for their individual language problems. Each student will have the opportunity to give two videotaped presentations on topics from their fields and then to meet with the instructor for extensive feedback and coaching.

Registration is handled through the ICC, not through the HUB.

TOP

  Workshops

Workshops typically meet twice a week, one and a half hours per session, in two to five week modules.

Advanced Fluency Challenges  focuses on building the robust academic fluency needed to handle the demands students face at Carnegie Mellon. In this workshop, students will practice building this fluency through regular, focused speaking activities. In addition, students will also learn valuable communication strategies that will help them compensate for language gaps they may have in their current speaking skills. (5 weeks, 15 hours total)

Advanced Grammar Monitoring  helps students who are comfortable in academic English, but who are still making a significant number of grammar mistakes while speaking. The class focuses on expanding the students' knowledge and understanding of spoken English grammar usage, on the kinds of errors ICC students typically make, and on learning to "monitor" (identify and correct) grammar errors while speaking. (3 weeks, 9 hours total)

Focus on Pronunciation  provides weekly 90-minute sessions to help students practice and develop pronunciation skills. Students can attend any or all of these stand-alone sessions. Unlike other workshops, pre-registration and weekly attendance are not required. However, students are strongly encouraged to attend as often as possible; mastering a second language takes commitment and regular practice over time.

Presentation Basics  helps graduate students who are nonnative English speakers develop the fluency and skills needed to give successful presentations at Carnegie Mellon. The workshop covers audience awareness, organizing language and presentation techniques, and the importance of stress and intonation in presenting. There is ample time for practice and feedback, both in a series of small group mini-talks, and in a final videotaped presentation. At the end of the workshop, students meet individually with the instructor for extensive feedback and coaching. (5 weeks, 15 hours total)

Public Speaking Practicum  allows students to practice giving short presentations about their fields and to receive feedback on language and communication style. This workshop is intended as a follow up for students who attended Presentation Basics or LCT, and who want continued presentation practice. (4 weeks, 6 hours total)

Speaking and Listening  is intended for students who have had limited experience with spoken academic English. The workshop helps students begin to develop the fluency to express their ideas and questions in classes, improve basic listening comprehension and note-taking, and better understand the Carnegie Mellon classroom. More importantly, students will gain a clearer understanding of the robust fluency they will need to develop for success at Carnegie Mellon and have a stronger language foundation so that they can benefit from other ICC support services. (4 weeks, 12 hours total)

TOP

  Seminars

Seminars are one-time sessions that meet for two hours.

Becoming a Better Language Learner  highlights second language theories and techniques which students can use to become more effective language learners, both in ICC classes and in their daily interactions.

Building Fluency for Office Hours: a seminar for ITAs  helps ITAs recognize and begin to develop skills needed to be successful in office hours. Participants will become aware of key aspects of teaching fluency, work on aspects of pronunciation crucial for communication with learners, and look at communication techniques needed in office hours.

Communicating Data Effectively  addresses challenges NNES face when discussing graphs/figures in academic papers and presentations. To communicate more effectively, students learn and practice a clear organizing structure, useful language, and strategies for using data in papers or presentations.

Communication Issues for Speakers of Other Varieties of English  (offered only in August) is intended for students who have used English for much or all of their academic lives (e.g., India, Singapore) but who still may encounter communication difficulties in the US. This seminar helps students recognize and deal effectively with potential problem areas.

Crafting a Professional Identity: Biostatements  Graduate students need to create biostatements for a variety of academic and professional situations. This is challenging for everyone, but non-native speakers have the additional challenge of navigating the unwritten cultural expectations. By discussing the conventions that influence biostatements, students are better able to make choices that enhance their professional portrayal.

Drama Techniques for Academic Presentations  provides theater techniques that can help presenters and ITAs more clearly communicate their message by engaging the audience and highlighting key ideas. This is offered as a two-part series of seminars that includes: Improving Spoken Delivery and Developing Non-Verbal Communication.

Email for Academic Purposes  addresses common problems that nonnative English speakers face when communicating by email with faculty, colleagues and other students. In this seminar, students will identify and practice strategies for effectively organizing information and communicating politely in academic emails.

Exploring Pittsburgh  provides a basis to understand references, examples and analogies that students may encounter in their work at Carnegie Mellon.

Focused Listening  trains students to use authentic materials (video or lectures) to develop both their own academic fluency and their ability to understand implied as well as literal meaning.

ITA Stories: A View From Three ITAs  offers a unique window into the experience of ITAs at CMU. Using material from a video project created in collaboration with several ITAs, international TAs become more aware the influence of culture on both teaching and learning styles, and explore ways to use these insights in the CMU classroom.

ITA Test Overview  gives students a clear understanding of the ITA test (procedures and scoring) so that they can prepare appropriately for the test and be more comfortable when taking the test.

Job Interviewing Skills for International Students  focuses on basic language and cultural skills needed to handle job interviews in the United States.

The Multicultural Classroom  examines some of the differences in communication style and attitudes to learning that students will encounter in a multi-cultural campus such as Carnegie Mellon. Through the use of a video case study, students will experience and discuss key issues in cross-cultural communication, identify potential problem areas, and develop strategies for dealing successfully with those issues.

Paraphrasing Properly & Avoiding Plagiarism  Nonnative English speakers may unintentionally plagiarize for two main reasons: 1) they may not completely understand what plagiarism means in US universities, and 2) they may lack the language and skills to paraphrase another author's work properly. This seminar will help students deal with these issues.

Participating in Classes  addresses the common factors (e.g., cultural differences, interaction style and assumptions about learning) that often hinder international students' ability to interact sufficiently in the Carnegie Mellon classroom. Participants will learn how to more effectively demonstrate their knowledge in classes, discussion groups and seminars.

Preparing for Oral Qualifiers and Defenses  helps students develop the language and cultural skills for effective interaction with examiners during an oral qualifier, defense, or exam. Specifically, this seminar reviews strategies to help students display greater confidence, demonstrate professionalism, and handle difficult questions effectively.

Principles of Academic Writing  offers an overview of the cultural variations in academic writing that often cause problems for international students. This seminar also helps students become better writers in their fields by teaching them to recognize, and eventually implement, various principles of successful academic writing (e.g. audience, purpose, organization, style, flow).

Pronunciation for Effective Presentations  introduces the crucial features of pronunciation (e.g., stress, intonation, speed and rhythm) that can make students more comprehensible when presenting or teaching in English. This seminar is fairly fast paced, so may not be appropriate for students still working on basic fluency.

Revising for Clarity  helps students improve the clarity of their writing by practicing how to structure sentences and paragraphs in a way that is consistent with the US academic style. Through examples and practice, students will learn how to compose their writing so that readers will interpret ideas as the writer intended.

"Talking the Talk"  is a series of four seminars which focus on the language and cultural strategies NNES need in informal situations (e.g., job interviews, conferences, talking with clients and funders, departmental receptions, etc.). Each seminar practices a different aspect of this skill set; students will be better prepared to demonstrate their professional expertise. (Students can take seminars in any order.)

  • Elevator Talk raises awareness of the US expectation that academics simplify their language when discussing their fields with a broad audience. Students learn techniques to simplify complex material, and practice these techniques in small group exercises.

  • Hallway Talk helps students understand and use culturally appropriate techniques to communicate the relevance of their work or research despite gaps in academic fluency. Students practice these techniques in small group exercises.

  • Research Talk for PhDs helps participants learn to adapt the jargon of their field for a general academic audience, and to develop a concise and accurate overview of their own research projects in a brief talk. Because this seminar requires learners to talk about their own research, this seminar is intended for PhD students who have proposed or are actively pursuing independent research; participants must have substantial research experience.

  • Small Talk focuses on the underlying significance of social conversation and its culturally appropriate use in academic and professional situations (a challenge for many international students).

Three Keys for Better Presentations  helps students quickly improve the quality of their presentations and feel more confident as presenters by focusing on three key areas: audience, purpose and organization. Participants plan and then present on academic topics of their choice.

Using Articles Accurately  provides strategies and rules to help writers correctly use articles (a/an, the, no article) in their academic and scientific writing.

Writing Academic Summaries  teaches students how to successfully write the various types of summaries that are required in many CM classes (reports, reviews, critiques, exams, etc.). Activities focus on identifying the key points in texts and summarizing these points in an accurate and concise way. Students will practice using their own words to condense material from outside sources.

Writing Successful Critiques  addresses common challenges that international students face when writing an evaluation or an analysis of another author's work. In this seminar, students will review and practice with the organizing structure and language typically used for critiques in the US academy.

TOP