University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota


English Language Opportunities at the University of Minnesota

Formal English courses and English support services are designed to assist our international students, scholars and their eligible dependents in improving their oral and written English skills (if they wish to do so). Please read below for English programs that may interest you.

English Language (ESL) Instruction

The Minnesota English Language Programs (MELP) helps internationals prepare for academic work in an English-speaking college or university setting, read more.

Other English Language Support Services

Resources is an online resource for multilingual students at the University of Minnesota. The website includes tips and resources for online learning, self-study materials, practice quizzes, tips, videos, and useful links to provide English language practice.

Conversation Programs

  • Tandem Plus
    (Language Center, 612-626-6050)
  • This program provides an opportunity to practice language skills and explore culture. Partners meet informally, but on a regular basis, and spend half of the time speaking English and the other half speaking the student’s native language. Once matched, partners determine when, where and how often to meet. Program matches are made shortly after the start of each semester.  This program is Free.


  • Student English Language Support
    SELS is a free service that offers 45-minute consultations to international undergraduate students to help further develop their English skills. During a consultation, students can work with trained consultants on any English language skill, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, pronunciation, and cultural adaptation. Students can bring in specific assignments or work on more general English language goals.

  • Instructional Center Tutoring
    (Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, 185 Klaeber Court, 612-624-6386).
  • Tutoring assistance for English composition.

  • Language and Teaching Consultations  (STUDENTS ONLY)
    (Teaching and Learning Services, Jane O’Brien, 612-6253041)
  • Non-credit work for graduate students who wish to continue their language and teaching development--based on staff availability.


Courses For Non-Native Speaker Of English
(English Department; Instructor: Sheryl Holt, 612-624-4525)

  • WRIT 1301: University Writing and Critical Reading (UNDERGRATES ONLY)
    Freshmen composition classes with special sections for non-native speakers of English
  • WRIT 5051: Graduate Research Writing Practice for Non-Native Speakers of English (GRAD STUDENTS ONLY) Prerequisite to attend this class: Graduate Student

Student Writing Support (Online resources are available to both STUDENTS and SCHOLARS)

Student Writing Support provides free writing instructions for all University of Minnesota students – graduate and undergraduate – at all stages of the writing process. In face-to–face and online collaborative consultations, they help students develop productive writing habits and revision strategies. Its online resources and videos are available to both STUDENTS and SCHOLARS.

International Teaching Assistant Courses (GRAD STUDENTS ONLY)

Courses that prepare international grad students for their role as teaching assistants (Center for Teaching and Learning, 612-625-3041,

  • GRAD 5102:  Preparation for University Teaching for Non-native English Speakers
  • GRAD 5105:  Practicum in University Teaching for Non-native English Speakers

ESL Resources in the Twin Cities Community

  • Minnesota Literacy Council
  • The Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy throughout the state of Minnesota. They offer literacy services for, among others, non- native-English speakers and recent immigrants.  On their website, they also help learners find convenient English programs in the Twin Cities or across the state.

  • The Lincoln Education Center
    The Lincoln Education Center offers free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults.  To take part in their classes, people need to take a test and fill out registration papers. Tests are given Monday through Wednesday. Call (612) 871-6350 for more information and to make a testing appointment.  Testing takes about two hours
  • The Center for Scholarly English
    The Center for Scholarly English provides one–to–one and small–group English language assistance. It works with scholars and researcher at the post-doctoral level and above. Instruction can be provided either on site, or at their campus in downtown Saint Paul. Specializing in oral communication and scholarly publishing. See more information or call 651 – 253–4903.
  • Toastmasters International is an organization devoted to the improvement of public speaking.  Many international students and scholars have found Toastmasters to be an excellent avenue not just to improving their English but to developing the self-confidence necessary for success in their professional lives.
  • UMN instructor Sheryl Holt has written a book especially for non-native English speakers, Success with Graduate and Scholarly Writing (for purchase).

Few Tips for Sharpening Your English Skills

To increase proficiency in English and achieve greater success in your studies/work, use every opportunity to improve your language skills before coming to the United States. Consider joining a class or study group to work on your English skills.

Speak English as often as possible. If there are English-speaking students at your present school, get acquainted with them and use the opportunity to practice.

Read English language books, magazines, and newspapers, including books from your field of study to familiarize yourself with the terms specific to your field.

Get acquainted with American pronunciation and slang by watching television and movies and listening to music or to radio programs in American English. If there are no programs in English in your country, in most parts of the world you can listen to radio broadcasts on Voice of America or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Consider living in the United States for few weeks before beginning formal study/work at the university.

Do-It-Yourself English Improvement (From the NAFSA’s Pre-Departure website)
Do-it-yourself English improvement is probably the most accessible form of English-language practice available to foreign students and scholars. But it requires some determination, mental preparations and actions such as preparing some conversation topics, locating people to talk to, approaching people you can talk to.