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Advanced English for Non-Native Speakers

In category: Communication Skills

Non-native speakers of English are a majority of postdoctoral scholars at Stanford. The Advanced English Skills for Non-Native Speakers series has 4 courses taught in small, intensive classes offered throughout the year that were designed to refine the proficiency and fluency in academic speaking and writing. There are no placement requirements for the courses but a minimum English proficiency is required at a level equivalent to TOEFL score of 525paper/197CBT/71iBT, TOEIC 625, IELTS 5.5. Current postdoctoral scholars appointed at Stanford only (visiting scholars may take the summer intensive 688V course) or language and communication courses through Stanford Continuing Studies.

I: Oral Communication

This course focuses on helping students improve their oral communication skills for academic and daily life. Emphasis is on increasing confidence and fluency through realistic activities both in and out of class covering pronunciation, idiom and slang usage, active listening skills, and conversation strategies. 

Course topics:

  • Conversations in formal and informal settings: what to say and how to say it
  • Skills and strategies for effective listening and improving pronunciation
  • Verbal skills and strategies for participating in group situations
  • Understanding cultural cues and expectations in oral communication

By the end of the course, participants are expected to:

  • Gain skills to improve conversational fluency
  • Apply techniques to improve pronunciation
  • Develop active, and interactive, listening skills
  • Articulate ideas more clearly and confidently
  • Use more sophisticated verbal skills in negotiation, persuasive or awkward situations
II: Professional & Academic Writing

Prerequisite: Oral Communication
This  course on academic writing for publication focuses on learning to write coherently, clearly, and concisely. It will also include some practice in writing effective emails, letters, and short proposals.

The required textbook is Williams, J. & Colomb, G. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (Tenth edition).

By the end of the course, participants are expected to:

  • Understand cultural conventions in written communication (emails, etc.)
  • Develop an awareness of reader expectations within their field
  • Recognize their most common individual language and stylistic problems
  • Show progress in developing ways to overcome those problems
  • Write more efficiently and confidently
  • See improvement in their overall writing effectiveness

III:  Oral Presentation
Prerequisite: Oral Communication 

The course focuses on building effective presentation skills with attention to pronunciation and rhetorical considerations, impromptu speaking skills, use of visuals and managing Questions & Answers from an audience. Presentations will be video-recorded for analysis and instructor feedback. Assignments will include pronunciation exercises, review of self-recorded presentations, self-evaluations, and meeting with the instructor for review of pronunciation and presentation feedback. 

Course topics: 

  • Word stress and intonation patterns
  • Elements of effective delivery styles
  • Rhetorical considerations in organizing content
  • Effective visuals
  • Impromptu speaking skills
  • Audience awareness and rapport, and
  • Q/A management

By the end of the course, participants are expected to:

  • Recognize their own presentation style and improve their delivery
  • See improvement in pronunciation, word stress and word choice
  • Learn the common strategies used by public speakers to engage an audience and manage Q&As

IV. Accent Reduction

Prerequisite: Oral Communication

This class helps non-native speakers to recognize and practice American English sounds, stress, and intonation patterns in order to improve comprehension and intelligibility. This is accomplished through identification of problem areas, focused practice and recording of exercises for instructor feedback. 

Course topics:

  • Review of vowel and consonant articulation
  • Stress patterns at the word and sentence level
  • Linking and reductions
  • Thought groups and focus words
  • Intonation and pitch variation

By the end of the course, participants are expected to:

  • Better understand American English sounds, stress, and intonation patterns
  • Identify some of their specific pronunciation problem areas
  • Show progress in their ability to self-monitor and self-correct in these areas
  • Develop coping strategies to compensate for pronunciation weaknesses
  • Gain exposure to useful resources available for ongoing self-improvement 


Upcoming Events

Monday, June 3, 2024 - 16:30
Monday, June 10, 2024 - 16:30
On Campus
Thursday, June 27, 2024 - 17:00
On Campus

Past Events

Thursday, April 18, 2024 - 17:00
Monday, April 8, 2024 - 16:30
Monday, April 1, 2024 - 16:30
Thursday, February 8, 2024 - 17:00
Tuesday, February 6, 2024 - 16:30
Monday, January 29, 2024 - 16:30
Thursday, October 19, 2023 - 17:00
Monday, October 16, 2023 - 16:30
Monday, October 9, 2023 - 16:30
Tuesday, August 29, 2023 - 16:30