SASS offers a number of programs and resources to help multilingual students be successful at university. Both undergraduate and graduate students can improve communication and build confidence by working on academic English reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
Not sure where to start? Visit our frequently asked questions tab.
Language skills we can help with include…
- General skill development: learn strategies for academic writing and self-editing
- Grammar: learn, review, and practice grammar topics
- Cultural conventions: learn about the expectations of a North American / English audience
- Academic vocabulary: develop an academic word bank
- English Proficiency Test (EPT) preparations: practice for Engineering and Applied Science Students
- Presentation practice: get feedback on a presentation for a course or conference
- Pronunciation: review and practice the sounds of English
- Academic discussions: learn and practice strategies for contributing to class discussions
- Vocabulary: build a spoken academic vocabulary with appropriate idioms and expressions
- Lectures: learn and practice strategies for understanding lectures and conferences
- Comprehension: develop skills to understand spoken English and pull out key ideas
- Active listening: find ways to engage with what your peers and professors are saying
- Comprehension: develop strategies to break down complex academic readings and identify key concepts
- Vocabulary: learn about resources for understanding academic language
- Integrating Research: explore how to effectively integrate ideas from readings into your writing for a North American / English audience
What is EAL support?
Students who speak English as an additional language can meet with the Academic Skills Specialist (EAL) for ongoing skills development. The purpose of this service is to support students in developing their academic English skills over time. Students may be interested in additionally booking writing or learning strategies appointments. The EAL program helps students develop similar skills as these other two programs, but through the specific lens of English skills development.
These appointments are private and confidential. Appointments are free, and they are available to all current domestic and international students who do not speak English as their first language.
“[The EAL Coordinator] explains things really clearly and made me feel more confident about my English skills. SASS and EAL made my graduate studies easier and less stressful. I wish every university had that program.”
What are EAL appointments like?
The first meeting focuses on discussing your goals for improving your academic English and creating a plan to achieve those goals. You and the coordinator will decide together how many times you should meet and what you will do at each session.
Each appointment is different, to suit each student’s needs, but some typical sessions include:
- Grammar lessons: Students bring in a piece of their writing. The coordinator helps to identify trends of grammatical errors and explains self-editing strategies to fix them. (Note—this is not an editing service.)
- Academic writing development: Students bring in writing and the coordinator helps identify places where meaning is unclear. By discussing word choice, transitions, and sentence structure, students develop their ability to produce writing that effectively communicates critical ideas.
- Pronunciation: Either by going through the sounds of English, one by one, or through speaking exercises, students receive feedback on their English pronunciation.
- Academic reading in English: Students bring in an academic reading and learn, then practice, strategies to support their comprehension of both vocabulary and key ideas.
How do I book an EAL appointment?
If you are interested in booking a EAL appointment, please request an introductory appointment. Once you fill out this form, you will receive an email with further instructions on how to access our online booking tool.
You need to fill out this form only once.
Both SASS and QUIC (Queen’s University International Centre) offer weekly opportunities to practice academic English skills and improve your writing with the support of professionals. Most programs are free and you do not need to register. You can come every week or just when needed.
English Academic Writing Support
- What is it? A chance to learn about and practice English academic writing
- When? Tuesday evenings, 6pm-8pm
- Where? Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) in Mitchell Hall
How does it work? Each week, SASS’s EAL Coordinator leads an interactive workshop on a different writing topic, such as articles, critical thinking, or sentence variety. Students can join for the topics which are of interest to them in order to build on writing foundations, evaluate examples, do practice exercises, learn strategies, and ask questions. Registration is not required.
“I have benefited a lot from the English Academic Writing Support workshops! It was like a course for me. The things I have learned from these workshops helped me to edit the writing myself. Although I still make mistakes, I believe I will be better and better! Everyone there are super dedicated in learning.”
“The English Academic Writing Support program was one of the first activities I did after my arrival to Kingston; it really helped me to get engaged in the Queen’s University and to adapt to the new academic environment. It is a perfect space to review the most complex topics in English writing for EAL students and even for practicing conversational English while you are meeting new people. They also provide useful tools and handouts in each class.”
Academic English Drop-In Support
- What is it? A drop-in program for academic English homework support
- When? Wednesday evenings, 6pm-8pm
- Where? Stauffer Library, room 143
How does it work? An EAL assistant will sit down with a student for 15 minutes at a time to answer questions, give feedback, and offer strategies. After assisting other students, they will come back to the previous students to check in and answer further questions. Registration is not required.
English Conversation Group
- What is it? An opportunity to practice English language conversation skills
- When? Thursday evenings, 5:30pm-7pm
- Where? Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) in Mitchell Hall
How does it work? Volunteers help guide English conversation with group activities and discussions. There’s a new topic every week. Learn idioms, expressions, and pronunciations in a welcoming environment. Registration is not required.
QUIC Social and Cultural Activities
- What are they? Activities at QUIC that offer opportunities to meet other students and practice oral communication skills in a social environment.
- When? Check the QUIC Events Calendar or QUIC social media for activities throughout the year
- Where? Usually at the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) in Mitchell Hall
How do they work? QUIC plans social and cultural events throughout the year to engage all students. Examples include movie nights, community lunches, and bus trips. Some events have fees and require registration.
Grad Writing Lab
- What is it? An opportunity for all graduate students to get writing support
- When? Thursday mornings, 9am-12pm
- Where? Graduate Student Reading Room on the 3rd floor of Stauffer Library
How does it work? Both domestic and international graduate students can drop in and work on their writing in a graduate community space. There is a dedicated academic writing specialist on site who can help students with writing questions. Registration is not required.
Practice English online
In addition to SASS’s writing and learning resources, you can use these external links to develop your academic English skills.
Oxford English Dictionary: comprehensive, traditional dictionary
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: entries include collocations (i.e. words that go together, like prepositions or common phrases)
Oxford Learner’s Dictionary: entries include definitions, collocations, audio examples of pronunciation, sentence examples, and alternative forms of the word
Linguee: translation tool with concrete examples in both languages, plus examples of the word in external sources
Grammar lessons and exercises
Online Writing Lab, Purdue University: exercises on grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, sentence style, writing numbers, and paraphrasing and summarizing
Punctuation, Oxford Dictionary: explanation of the different punctuation marks and their uses
Grammatical Terms, Grammar Bytes!: printer-friendly explanations of grammatical topics with examples
Exercises, Grammar Bytes!: interactive or printable exercises on various grammatical topics
Verb Tense Chart, Alba English: colour-coded infographic explaining English verb tenses—link automatically downloads PDF of chart
Verb Tenses, Englisch Hilfen: text-based chart explaining English verb tenses—includes conditional tenses
English Spelling, Oxford Dictionary: explanations of tricky spelling trends
Academic Phrasebank, Manchester University: categorized templates of academic phrases to express specific ideas (e.g., “introduce a new topic”)
Understanding Vocabulary in Context, Douglas College: explanation of strategies and corresponding practice exercises
Lexical Notebook, British Council: strategy for creating a new vocabulary notebook
YouGlish: tool that uses YouTube videos on academic / professional / technical topics to show the pronunciation of English words in context
Independent study: work on English by yourself over time
ELC Study Zone, University of Victoria: lessons and practice for English language learners that are categorized by language level—lessons include grammar, reading and listening, and vocabulary
- Intermediate Course: self-guided course with lessons and practice activities on a wide range of English topics
- Tim’s Pronunciation Workshop: short videos explaining pronunciation strategies to become more fluent
- 6-Minute English: short audio clips that introduce new vocabulary through conversation
TED Ed: approximately 5-minute videos with corresponding comprehension questions, discussion questions, and extended reading
Grammar Girl: blog on various grammar and language-related topics
Reading List, Queen’s School of English: suggested fiction for English language learners
Reading and computer software
Students have the opportunity to work independently on language and academic writing skills. SASS offers students access to two new computer programs:
- Inspiration can help students brainstorm ideas, clarify thinking, and organize information using mind-maps and outlines.
- Kurzweil 3000 is text-to-speech software providing multilingual students with audio and visual aids for reading, writing, and fluency.
If you would like to learn more about how this software can help develop language fluency, vocabulary, and self-editing skills, please contact the Academic Skills Specialist (EAL) (firstname.lastname@example.org).