Communication Skills

The single most important academic skill that a student needs to succeed at an elite U.S. high school or university is excellent communcation skills in English. Students must be able to write clearly, persuasively, and at native-level proficiency to truly be competitive with their American classmates.

There are four common academic obstacles that non-native speakers of English face in the highly competitive classroom environment of elite U.S. universities. These are:

Writing according to American academic composition standards. Academic styles vary by country and culture. In order to succeed, it is critically important that an international student learn the American style of academic writing and how to properly cite their sources of research information. Failure to do this properly can lead students to be accused of “plagiarism” or trying to cheat.

Speaking up during classroom discussions. American professors expect this and often grade students on the amount and quality of their verbal contributions to classroom discussions.

Politely but assertively stating one’s own opinions both in classroom discussions and in academic papers and tests. Students are expected to form their own opinions based on their readings and research, and then use an argumentative essay style to state and support their opinions.

Working on group projects with American classmates. Many American professors require students to form teams to work together on written assignments and classroom presentations. Often non-native speakers of English find themselves excluded from tkese groups because of linguistic and cultural barriers.

Our ESL instructors, Mr. Brian Pfaff and Ms. Leija Hamalainen, are highly experienced teachers and communications professionals. They have experience teaching non-native speakers of English from the elementary school all the way up to foreign university professors visiting the U.S. Both have taught English in the U.S. and abroad. They understand the linguistic and cultural barriers students face in the U.S. classroom. They individually tutor our clients on their writing and speaking skills, and focus on teaching skillful composition of academic papers.

These dedicated, patient, and expert teachers will tutor your son or daughter so that s/he can greatly improve his or her writing skills in English and in cross-cultural understanding and communication skills.