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Academic Communication for International Students

Credits: 1 | May not be repeated for credit | This course can be taken at the same time as a ULWR course; it does not fulfill the Upper Level Writing Requirement.

This course introduces students to two topics in academic communication. First, students learn how to analyze the structure of typical American academic lectures for the purpose of enhancing not only their own comprehension skills but also their ability to create and present their own lectures. This is essentially a rhetorical task, which will be reflected in the structure of the course. The first part of the course will focus on analyzing the ways in which introductions to lectures engage the audience, set out key terms and specialized vocabulary, and foreshadow what will follow in the remainder of the lecture.

Attention will then turn to the ways in which the main body of a lecture takes shape; the transition from one point to another; the strategic use of examples, illustrations, and details; and the acknowledgement of alternative perspectives. This part of the course will also consider the various relationships between visual and verbal dimensions of lectures.

Next, the course will turn to analysis of lecture conclusions, considering how they synthesize main points, draw implications, and suggest topics that will follow. Throughout this process students will interview peers in their lecture classes to determine whether or not other students identify these features in lectures and how they use or do not use these features to their advantage in both comprehending classroom lectures and creating their own presentations. As students are introduced to the various sections of a lecture and the strategies used for organizing those sections, they will create their own portion of a lecture on a topic relevant to their respective academic disciplines.

By the end of the course, students will have created a lecture of their own for presentation to their peers. This culminating project will give students an opportunity to understand the rhetorical and intellectual aspects of their lectures in much more depth and enhance their capacity to make effective oral presentations in academic and professional settings.

Additionally, in working on this project throughout the course of the semester and seeking feedback from others in the class on their progress, students will work towards accomplishment of the second goal of the course. Namely, students will develop skills for the successful navigation of seminar-style classroom discussion and engagement with others’ work.

Course Requirements

  • Regular class attendance and engagement 
  • Analysis of videos, including analysis of the structure of various elements of academic lectures, both recorded and live 
  • Production of a total of 15-19 pages of writing 
  • Delivery of three oral presentations, totaling approximately 20 minutes

Intended Audience

multilingual students

Class Format

seminar meets 1 hour per week, full term