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Language and Communication Resources

UC San Diego Resources

UC San Diego offers a multitude of language and communication resources for international students and scholars.

Center for Student Involvement – Communication and Leadership Programs

The UC San Diego Center for Student Involvement (CSI) – Communication and Leadership programs help students build confidence and develop skills in leadership, public speaking, interpersonal, intergroup, and professional communication.

  • One Button Studio, an easy-to-use video recording studio that students can use without any previous experience or knowledge about video production. The studio is a resource for rehearsing presentations and for developing high-quality video projects without knowing anything about lights and cameras. All that’s needed is a reservation, a prepared presentation, and a flash drive, and you’re ready to push the button.
  • Free non-credit workshops and seminars that develop students' social and professional skills in a fun, interactive environment. Seminars begin Week 2 of each quarter and meet for 8-9 sessions. Certificates are awarded to students who successfully complete a seminar. 

English-in-Action Tutor Program (EIA)

International students, scholars and their spouses are eligible to apply for a tutor if they need help with their conversational English and information about living in the United States and San Diego. Conversation partners usually meet for 1-2 hours per week at the International Center or another location convenient to both, for an average of 12 months. To apply for a volunteer tutor, please visit the EIA webpage. The EIA program is free for registered international students. For scholars and spouses there is an annual registration fee. For additional information, call (858) 534-3730, or email iprograms@ucsd.edu.

English Language Institute 

UC San Diego Extension English Language Institute provides English language courses for a tuition fee. There are various programs to choose from, including a longer 10-week program or shorter 4-week and 2-week courses of study. The UC San Diego Extension catalog has information about qualifications for a discount on extension courses.

NOTE: A limited number of complimentary enrollment vouchers for up to $400 are offered to qualified UC San Diego graduate students who may take one complimentary class per academic year. Information about the enrollment vouchers is forwarded to students via email by their department before an academic quarter begins. Alternatively, if there are no complimentary enrollment vouchers available, UC San Diego full-time graduate students are eligible to receive a 10% fee discount of up to $50.00 per quarter.

The Language Exchange

The Language Exchange is a free, self-serve program. To find a language exchange partner, just join the Language Exchange Facebook Page and post your native language, the language you'd like to practice, your contact information, and any other information you'd like to share. Language partners will contact each other through Facebook and start practicing each others' language.

The Language Laboratory at UC San Diego

The UC San Diego Language Laboratory offers Rosetta Stone software for English as a Second Language to develop conversation, listening comprehension, and pronunciation skills. A UC San Diego Student ID card or Visiting Scholar card is required. There is no fee for the lab’s services. 

Toastmasters at UC San Diego

UC San Diego Table Talkers Toastmasters is a public speaking leadership club which meets at UC San Diego each week, except during holidays. Check the website for time and location.

UC San Diego Torrey Pines Speakers Toastmasters Club is another public speaking leadership club which meets weekly on campus. 

Wednesday Coffee 

Wednesday Coffee is an informal, family-friendly social gathering that provides attendees an opportunity to meet people, make friends, and practice English with local volunteers and fellow international community members. Wednesday Coffee is an excellent resource for all of your questions as you adjust to your new surroundings.

Attendees have the option of participating in a volunteer-led planned activity (often a craft) while chatting. Specific information about the week's planned activity can be obtained by joining the Wednesday Coffee email list. Please go to https://sites.google.com/site/ucsdwednesdaycoffee/home/join-us and complete the form so that you can receive email notifications of the planned schedule. 

The Writing Hub

The Writing Hub supports all writers on campus--every writer, any project--and promotes writing as a tool for learning.  To make an appointment with a writing mentor/consultant, please visit the Writing Hub website. Questions? Contact writinghub@ucsd.edu.

Online Resources

Whether you’re a new international graduate student waiting to arrive at UC San Diego or already here, these online English language resources have helped many successful Teaching & Instructional Assistants to prepare their English for teaching. 

Culture of U.S. Higher Education

Interviews with Undergraduates about Life at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering: Valuable both for what the students say about their lives and for sampling students’ spoken English.

Teaching in America: A Guide for International Faculty: International faculty members at Harvard discuss adapting to teaching in the U.S. Although produced in 1992, the information and advice remains relevant even today.

English via YouTube

Jennifer’s ESL: Hundreds of YouTube videos on pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

David Sconda: Humorous, effective video on pronouncing the /th/ sound.

Free Online Dictionaries

Cambridge Dictionary: ELP-ii students rate this dictionary as the best tool for hearing terms pronounced in a "natural voice," both in British English (UK) and American English (US). They also cite the extensive list of field-specific terms as "a definite plus!"

Dictionary.com: This dictionary was rated highly for its "straightforward" appeal, though the terms can sound "robotic."

Grammar and Vocabulary

Activities for ESL Students: English-only and bilingual grammar and vocabulary quizzes organized by level of difficulty.

Articles (a/an/the): An introduction to the use of articles in English.

Language and Teaching

Using English for Academic Purposes: A guide for speaking in academic contexts by Andy Gillett.

Technical Terms: Pronunciation of technical terms from the following disciplines: math, statistics, chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, and economics.

Useful Phrases for Classroom Communication, Robert Johanson: Common phrases used in teaching, including phrases needed to introduce a topic, invite student participation, give examples, and give homework. No audio.

Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English: A searchable corpus of words and phrases used in lectures, classroom discussions, and lab sections, including self-study exercises to help you learn common classroom expressions.

Listening Comprehension

TED Lectures: Fifteen-minute lectures by leaders in business, technology, and entertainment, captioned in dozens of languages.

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States: A bank of over 5,000 full text, audio, and video versions of public speeches, including presidential addresses from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama and comedy routines by Abott and Costello. Links to speeches from CSPAN and the Commonwealth Club.

Voice of America: Podcasts and videos of US and international news for learners of English.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)**

MIT: The most popular course ELP-ii students found useful is the Linear Algebra course taught by Professor Gilbert Strang.

Stanford: Offers an extensive list of upcoming and in-session courses.

Coursera: Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

Pronunciation

Speaking English Activities: Allows students to hear a sentence or expression, record themselves saying it, and compare.

American English Pronunciation Practice (For ESL/EFL) Minimal pairs (pain/pen; fourteen/forty), tongue twisters, and songs.

Phonetics: The Sounds of American English App: Description of sounds of American English categorized by manner and place of articulation. App link: http://soundsofspeech.uiowa.edu/index.html#english

Phonetic Transcription Exercises: Practice exercises with the phonetic alphabet.

Review Basic Technical Vocabulary and Concepts*

MCAT Review: A comprehensive online review of subject areas covered on the MCAT. This site is rated best by ELP-ii science and engineering students for English language review of general chemistry, physics, biology, biological molecules and organic chemistry.

Khan Academy: Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. It teaches math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. The math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. They've also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.

*Rated "Best Sites for Reviewing Basic Course Material in English" by ELP-ii graduate students.
**Rated most helpful for "How to Teach Basic Material" & for "Review of Basic Concepts" by ELP-ii graduate students.