Carnegie Mellon University

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.


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

(note: can be taken either for pass-fail credit, 99-452, or as an ICC non-credit workshop

Become aware of key aspects of teaching fluency, better understand the US classroom, and have frequent opportunities to practice these skills.  Students will also have the chance to teach a mini-lesson and then meet with the instructor for feedback and coaching.

Build fluency and organizing language, and learn valuable communication strategies that help compensate for language gaps. (4 weeks, 12 hours total)
Learn to "monitor" (identify and correct) spoken grammar errors by expanding your understanding of spoken English grammar usage and the kind of errors ICC students typically make. (3 weeks, 9 hours total)
(formerly called Presentation Basics)

Practice academic language, and develop presenting skills in audience awareness, organization and pronunciation. Students practice in small group mini-talks and a final videotaped presentation, then meet individually with the instructor for coaching. (4 weeks, 12 hours total)

is a 15-hour summer intensive workshop that covers the key skills taught in the 6 week workshop, Language and Culture for Teaching, make this a link offered in the fall and spring semesters (1.5 weeks, 15 hours total)
allows students follow up on Presentation Basics or LCT:  practice giving short academic presentations and get feedback on language and communication style. (4 weeks, 6 hours total)
Intended for students with limited experience in speaking English. Begin to express your ideas, improve basic listening comprehension and note-taking, and better understand the Carnegie Mellon classroom. (4 weeks, 12 hours total)


Seminars are one-time sessions that meet for 90 minutes.
Language learning theories and techniques to become a more effective language learner.
Practice organizing structures and language used for explaining data in papers and presentations.
Understand the unwritten cultural expectations that influence how biostatements are crafted.
focuses on improving focused eye contact, improving pacing, and reducing stage fright; part of the three-part Drama Techniques for Academic Presentations seminar series, which also includes Improving Spoken Delivery and Improving through Improvisation.
Learn techniques to summarize and simplify complex material.
Identify and practice strategies for effectively organizing information and communicating politely in academic emails.
Understand references, examples and analogies you encounter at Carnegie Mellon.
Prepare yourself to successfully listen in a variety of academic situations.

(required for students scoring Restricted I or II on the ITA test before they can work as teaching assistants)  A 3-hour seminar that helps ITAs recognize some of the fundamental language skills and cultural knowledge needed to be successful as TAs.

Students will register for this session during ITA test feedback.
focuses on muscularity/ mouth movement, gestures, and emphatic stress; part of the three-part Drama Techniques for Academic Presentations seminar series, which also includes Developing Non-verbal Communication and Improving through Improvisation.
focuses on techniques for active listening and how to handle unexpected situations; part of the three-part Drama Techniques for Academic Presentations seminar series, which also includes Improving Spoken Delivery and Developing Non-verbal Communication.
Learn about the test format, evaluation procedure/ protocols, and strategies to do well on the test.
Be more prepared to take advantage of the career development support available on campus.
Nonnative English speakers can avoid unintentionally plagiarizing by understanding what plagiarism means in US universities, and how to paraphrase another author's work properly.
Learn how to demonstrate your knowledge more effectively in classes, discussion groups and seminars.
PhD students doing independent research adapt concepts and jargon for a lay audience to give a concise and accurate overview of your dissertation projects.
Understand cultural skills needed for effective interaction with examiners during an oral qualifier, defense, or exam.
Learn principles of successful academic writing (e.g. audience, purpose, organization, style, flow).
Learn how to better tell your "professional story": e.g., professional strengths, motivations, future aspirations, personal and professional influences.
Practice aspects of pronunciation (e.g., stress, intonation, speed and rhythm) that can make you more comprehensible.
Learn language and cultural strategies to more successfully interact with advisors and university offices.
Learn to revise your writing through structuring sentences and paragraphs so that readers will interpret ideas as you intended.
Understand the underlying significance of social conversation and how to use it in academic and professional situations.
Improve the quality of presentations and feel more confident as a presenter by focusing on audience, purpose and organization.
Practice strategies for using articles (a/an, the, no article) correctly.
Learn how to successfully write the various types of summaries that are required in many CMU classes (reports, reviews, critiques, exams, etc.).
Practice the organizing structure and language used to write an evaluation or an analysis of another author's work.

"Focus on" Series

"Focus on" classes are 90-minute drop-in practice sessions; advance registration is not required and you can come as often as you like. However, mastering a second language takes commitment and regular practice over time, so we encourage students to come to every session if possible.
Practice using grammar structures that are typically problematic for ICC students.
Practice techniques that make the biggest difference in clarity and comprehensibility