ESL/Accent Reduction Programs

Many graduate students at Northwestern University are international students whose native language is not English. To address this community, there are a wide variety of English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and services available at Northwestern. Students should never hesitate in asking for help with their written and spoken English. In fact, this type of assistance is strongly encouraged by the Directors of Graduate Studies and the deans, so students should make use of these resources.

The ESL program offers several programs through their office, including tutoring sessions. The ESL program also maintains a list of private tutors for hire. Here’s a short list of some of the programs and services available. Any questions should be directed to Susan Jackman, PhD Program Office.

ESL Classes offered by the Linguistics Department has classes for non-native speakers. Students register for these classes through CAESAR. This would be an ideal “4th class.” These classes are offered as pass/no pass and auditing is also available.

Linguistics 380: Spoken English for Nonnative Speakers (series of three separate courses, offered in the fall, winter, and spring) – These courses address all aspects of oral language skills, from informal conversational English to formal academic English. The goal of these courses is to significantly improve nonnative speaker intelligibility (the ability to be easily understood by others), improve the interactions students have in English, increase students' comfort and confidence in speaking with Americans, and further refine skills involved in fluency and comprehensibility in conversation.

Here are the sections offered:
  • Fall Quarter: Pronunciation, Intonation and Word Stress
  • Winter Quarter: Conversation and Fluency
  • Winter Quarter: Culture and Fluency
  • Spring Quarter: Academic Presentations

Linguistics 381: Written English for Nonnative Speakers (offered in the spring) – This course focuses on written argumentation skills needed by graduate students for writing class assignments, journal articles, theses, and dissertations, as well as all other aspects of academic writing. The class is tailored to the particular skills and needs of the students enrolled in the course. Work on assignments for other classes, research papers, and thesis chapters are incorporated into the class plan.

You can view the course schedule for the year here.

Another resource is the Speech and Language Clinic in the School of Communication, which offers accent reduction classes and one-on-one tutoring to members of the Northwestern community and the general public. Instructors are students and faculty in the Master in Speech Pathology program.

Additionally, the CCIS (Community Council for International Students) offers English Conversation partners for students and their spouses. Students and spouses practice and improve their English skills by attending social activities that take place in member's homes and other places of special interest.