International Students Hone Writing Skills for Free at Language Institute

Georgia Tech’s incoming freshman class is 10 percent international students; for the overall student body, that number is about 18 percent. For many, coming to Tech is the first time these students have used English on a regular basis in a rigorous academic environment.

To serve those students, the Language Institute offers free writing and presentation assistance to all students. A pilot last fall confirmed the need for the service, which has grown during the past year.

Students work one-on-one with an instructor in 30-minute sessions. Sessions focus on writing tasks such as course papers; journal papers; proposals; dissertation or thesis chapters; resumes and cover letters; teaching and reserach statements; and personal biographies. Speaking assistance includes PowerPoint presentation formatting and writing; basic pronunciation evaluations; field-specific vocabulary lessions; teaching or presentation practice; video recording and feedback; and interviewing skills. 

“When I came to Tech for digital media, the literature expectations were much higher, and I didn’t have as much experience since my background was in graphic design and art,” said Hye Yeon Nam, a digital media PhD student from South Korea who took advantage of the Language Institute's services last year. “I wanted to improve my skills because it’s important to communicate with my students and other people in my field.”

Nam met with an instructor on a weekly basis and has recommended the service to numerous friends and classmates. Though other classes were helpful, Nam improved the most from the one-on-one time, for which she would have paid a significant amount per hour outside of Tech.

“The best part about working with students is sending them away feeling as if they have learned what kinds of problems they have, how they can improve their writing and what makes good writing,” said Jane Chisholm, a Language Institute instructor. She’s also able to serve as a source for editing students’ writing outside of their professors and advisors, providing a relief for faculty as well.

Those interested in participating in a session can sign up online at gatech.mywconline.com. All sessions take place in Room 120 of the O'Keefe Building or Room 466B of the Clough Commons.