Skip to Content

International Student Support

Sweetland provides support for all international and multilingual undergraduate students who are making the transition into the U-M community. Small class size, credit-bearing courses, appointments with experienced instructors to discuss writing, peer writing centers at several campus locations, lab experiences and conversation groups that address oral language issues--these are some of the ways Sweetland serves international and multilingual students.

Writing Support

Sweetland offers two ways for undergraduates to get face-to-face writing help: our Peer Writing Center and its satellite locations and the Writing Workshop.

The Peer Writing Center in Angell Hall or our satellite offices in the Duderstadt Center, Alice Lloyd Hall, and the Shapiro Undergraduate Library offer writing help from Sweetland-trained Peer Writing Consultants. Watch the Sweetland and Multiligual Writers video below.

Writing Workshop is a free service that provides appointments with experienced instructors who address individual students' questions about writing assignments and drafts.

Spoken English Support

Chat Cafe: Casual Conversation Groups provide students an opportunity to improve their spoken English in a relaxed environment. Each group includes up to 6 undergraduate international and multilingual students and is led by one of our undergraduate Chat Cafe Leaders. Groups meet once a week and are a great way to meet new people, explore U-M/Ann Arbor, and improve your English.

The Language Resource Center, located across the hallway from Sweetland's office in North Quad, offers the language learning programs and other resources to supplement your language learning efforts.

Courses

Writing 119: Style and Editing for International Students

Operating on a workshop and discussion format, this one-credit mini course aims to help international and multilingual students to practice English academic writing in a supportive environment. In this course, students explore and discuss the rhetorical effectiveness of stylistic elements commonly found in American academic writing. Through this exploration and discussion, students expand the repertoire of language structures and vocabulary items upon which to draw in composing their own academic writing. Furthermore, this exploration and discussion of stylistic elements help students acquire effective self-editing strategies. Students apply these editing strategies to the papers they write for their First-Year Writing Requirement courses or another course that requires writing.

Writing 120: College Writing for International Students

Writing 120 is intended for all students who feel most comfortable with academic writing in a language other than English. This course is designed to help students develop their general and academic writing abilities in English. Students will develop written fluency and improve command over grammatical and rhetorical conventions common in a variety of academic disciplines with the aim of developing a rhetorical perspective on multilingualism as it relates to academic writing.

Writing 340: Advanced Writing for International Students

Writing 340 supports upper-level international and multilingual students who want to develop discipline-specific writing skills. Students can enroll in this course before or concurrently with their required ULWR course to receive additional help for that course. Students who have completed their required ULWR course are also welcome to take this course if they want to further develop their academic and professional writing abilities.

Recommended Resources

Grammar and Speaking

Grammar Self-learning Guide

When we talk about “English grammar,” we mean the conventional rules that are essential to understanding the English language. These include basic word order, tense, articles, verbs, and mood. If you frequently produce sentences like “Mary and Lily comes from Russia,” and you are not able to self-correct, you probably need some grammar instruction.

Books on basic grammar rules of the English language available at the Language Resource Center:

  • Hewings, M. (2005). Advanced Grammar in Use: A self-study reference and practice for advanced students of English. ISBN-10: 1107699894.
  • Murphy, H. (2012). English Grammar in Use with Answers and CD-ROM: A self-study reference and practice book for intermediate learners of English. ISBN-10: 052118939X.
  • Thurman, S. & Shea, L. (2003). The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A one-stop source for every writing assignment. ISBN-10: 1580628559.

Self-learning sites we recommend:

If your sentences do not contain grammatical errors, but they sound odd to most English speakers, you probably want to improve your writing style, also known as “stylistic grammar.” Here are some stylistic guides you can check out from the library:

  • Hacker, D. & Sommers, N. (2012). A Writer’s reference with Resources for Multilingual Writers and ESL. ISBN-13: 9780312649364
  • Strunk, W., White, E.B., & Angell, R. (1999). The Elements of Style (4th Ed.). ISBN-10: 020530902X.

Speaking Practice Guide

Speaking includes, but it is not limited to, pronunciation. Everyone has a unique way of speaking, and the crucial task is to make oneself easily understood by others. Too often language learners become so worried about how their speech is perceived that they dare not speak up in public. This may put you at a particularly disadvantage when verbal participation is expected or evaluated in your classes.

Pronunciation

Vowels and consonants are key to clear pronunciation. You might want to pay attention to them in your practice. 

You can also select any recording you like and read aloud after the speaker. When you read, we recommend that you record your own voice. You can compare your way of speaking to that in the video, and you can make adjustments accordingly. If you are a female student, check for a recording of a female voice you like; likewise, if you’re a male student, select a male’s recording.

Speaking

Once you grow confident with your pronunciation, we recommend that you talk with real people. You can check out these two resources:

Reference Works

Determiners

Collocations dictionaries

The online collocations dictionaries linked below can help students choose the correct preposition for phrasal prepositional verbs or for noun + preposition combinations, such as “affinity for,” that frequently bundle together:

Choosing appropriate transition words

Sentence structure

  • Syntax - English sentence structure (includes exercises with an online answer key)
  • Clause Structure (includes exercises with an online answer key. This site also includes information on a variety of other language-use issues. However, you may want to warn students that they should NOT refer to this site for information on using determiners correctly, as British English uses determiners in slightly different ways than American English.)
  • Sentence Structure (includes exercises with an online answer key)
  • Grammar and Mechanics (browse through the main menu of this website for pages on sentence structure, word choice, and other helpful topics)

Books (all available at the Language Resource Center - LRC)

  • “Creating Meaning: Advanced Reading and Writing.” The first chapter of this book contains information about sentence structure as well as exercises that allow the student to test his or her understanding of sentence structure. 
  • “The Condensed ESL Writer’s Guide.” Pages 36-54 of this book contain information about sentence structure. The LRC also holds a copy of the workbook that accompanies “The Condensed ESL Writer’s Guide.” This workbook contains exercises that allow the student to test his or her understanding of sentence structure.
  • “The Well-Crafted Sentence: A Writer’s Guide to Style.” The first chapter of this book contains information about sentence structure.

Websites on choosing the best verb tense, aspect, and mood to express your meaning accurately:

Print-based general references helpful for all writers, but especially for L2 writers:

  • The Condensed ESL Writer’s Handbook, Carlock et. a. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of MI Press, 2013.
  • The Word Combination Card, Alves et. al. Rockville, MD: Language Arts Press, 2010.
  • A Pocket Style Manual, Diana Hacker. (Any edition is fine; I use the fourth edition.) Boston: Bedford / St. Martins, 2004.
  • Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus with CD-ROM. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780194752008
    The CD-ROM that accompanies this thesaurus is very useful in helping students learn to use a thesaurus effectively.

Reading List

Dictionaries

  • Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary with CD-Rom, 8th Edition. 
  • Oxford collocations dictionary for students of English, 2nd Edition. 
  • Oxford learner’s thesaurus: A dictionary of synonyms.  
  • Oxford student’s dictionary for learners using English to study other subjects.
  • Oxford advanced American dictionary for learners of English with CD-ROM.
  • Oxford phrasal verbs dictionary for learners of English, 2nd edition.
  • Oxford idioms dictionary for learners of English, 2nd edition.

Grammar

  • Hewings, M. (2005). Advanced Grammar in Use: A self-study reference and practice for advanced students of English. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Murphy, H. (2012). English Grammar in Use with Answers and CD-ROM: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Learners of English. Cambridge University Press.
  • Thurman, S. & Shea, L. (2003). The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment.

Rhetoric and Composition

  • Joseph, S. M. & McGlinn M. (2002). The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric.
  • Strunk, W. (1999). The Elements of Style.
  • Kirszner, L. & Mandell, S. (2011). Patterns for College Writing: A Rhetorical Reader and Guide.
  • Wilson, N. D. & Wilson, D. (2011). The Rhetoric Companion: A Student's Guide to Power in Persuasion. Canon Press.

Manuals

  • American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition.