Academic Culture and Communication - Silicon Valley-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Culture and Communication

Silicon Valley Summer Program

Preparing Nonnative English Speakers for Success at Carnegie Mellon University

2015 Silicon Valley Summer Program Dates July - August (exact dates to be set)

Program Overview

Academic Culture and Communication at Silicon Valley (ACC-SV) is an intensive six-week summer program designed for nonnative English speakers entering Carnegie Mellon University graduate programs each Fall. This program is strongly recommended for incoming graduate students whose language skill assessment scores fall roughly in the ranges described on the Admission and Registration page.  

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ACC-SV Summer Program 2013

Learn more about the experiences students had in the 2013 ACC-SV program, including daily sessions in writing, speaking, and American university culture. Keep reading

ACC-SV prepares and trains incoming graduate students (both Master and PhD) for the demanding programs at Carnegie Mellon and helps students strengthen the language and cultural skills expected of them in the US classroom. Our program is designed to strengthen students' chances for success at CMU by enhancing their skills in the areas of academic speaking, listening, interacting, reading, and writing. By honing these skills before the Fall semester begins, students are better prepared to engage in academic work and take their place in the community.

ACC-SV also provides students the opportunity to become familiar with other students, faculty, the Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley campus, and the Silicon Valley area before the regular school year begins.

What can students realistically expect from a summer intensive program?

Language learning requires repeated practice over time, so six weeks is a short time to significantly increase language proficiency. Instead, we focus on the strategies and techniques that can help students more effectively use the language they already have. As such, ACC-SV is aimed at students who have gaps in their academic fluency and yet have the foundation with English (as per their TOEFL scores) to benefit from a six-week intensive program.

In ACC-SV students learn and practice the strategies and techniques that can help students more effectively use the language they already have. By the end of ACC-SV students can realistically expect that they will:

  • Better understand US classroom culture and the expectations placed on graduate students in the US
  • Be more comfortable using English for academic speaking (e.g., expressing opinions in group discussion, presenting ideas clearly, asking questions)
  • Be familiar with basic techniques required to give academic presentations in the US
  • Understand and apply general principles for academic writing in the US (e.g., audience, organization, flow)
  • Recognize and begin to use crucial techniques needed for more comprehensible pronunciation
  • Become aware of their own language gaps, and begin to develop strategies both to compensate and to continue to improve language mastery throughout the coming semesters.

How ACC-SV is different from a traditional ESL summer program

ACC-SV addresses an audience not served by traditional ESL programs. Most intensive ESL programs are designed for students with English fluency well below the threshold needed for academic work; unlike ACC-SV, they cannot provide the level of instruction that would best help incoming Carnegie Mellon students prepare for the demands of graduate programs.

The ACC-SV program at Silicon Valley is patterned after the summer program offered through the Intercultural Communications Center at Carnegie Mellon University main campus, with extensive assistance from Peggy Heidish and her staff at the ICC.