English Language Services

Are you learning English as a second language? You may hear the term ELL and wonder what it stands for—English Language Learners.

People new to the language sometimes face a unique set of challenges that go beyond the classroom. You might need some extra help with your studies, or want to learn more about American culture on college campuses. Whether you're an international student looking for connections or you just want to brush up on your English skills, we've got resources to help.

Academics in the United States

The American Classroom

At American universities lectures are the primary form of instruction, especially at the undergraduate level. You'll find that some professors won't take attendance, but you're still expected to be in the lecture hall or classroom.

What You Can Expect

Classroom discussion, recitations, reading assignments, and periodic written assignments supplement the lectures. Students are expected to contribute to the discussion in the classroom. American professors want students to respect their knowledge and opinions, but they generally prefer discussion and debate to respectful silence.

Speak Up

Questioning or challenging the teacher is viewed as a healthy sign of interest, attention, and independent thinking. Silent observation is often assumed to indicate that you are not interested in what is being said in class, or that you do not understand.

Respectful Participation

Although most faculty members encourage critical thinking from students, the manner in which criticism is expressed is important. You can show respect by acknowledging your professor's point of view and then offering yours for consideration. The teaching style of the professor can determine the amount of student participation in each class.

Instructors Set the Tone

Some instructors prefer a more formal style of lecture with a possible question and answer period at the end. Others prefer a more conversational style and encourage interaction throughout the class. You can get the ‘feel’ of the classroom expectations within the first few weeks of class or discuss classroom etiquette with your classmates or professor if you have questions or concerns.