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Learn more about tutorials.
Who is eligible for a tutorial?
All non-native English-speaking students from the College of Arts and Sciences (undergraduate and graduate) are eligible for a tutorial, but space is limited so tutorials are allocated on the basis of need. To request a tutorial, email Program Administrator Shelby Speer, or simply stop by her office in Rabb Graduate Center Room 340 to complete a Tutor Request Form. The office in generally open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please note that we do not offer tutorials to Heller or IBS students at the present time.
Who are the tutors?
Tutors are graduate and undergraduate students from many disciplines who have significant teaching experience and cross-cultural knowledge. Some of them are international students themselves who are very familiar with the challenges facing graduate students new to this campus, this country, and American academic life. Graduate students generally find that the positive relationship they form with their tutor allows them the freedom to engage intellectually with their discipline at a deeper level by exploring what is confusing or unclear in mastering American writing conventions.
What happens during a writing tutorial?
Since tutorials are student led, you bring what you want to work on, whether it is an upcoming essay, a literature review, or a chapter of your dissertation. Your tutor will help you develop your ideas, create a thesis, clarify your argument, examine your evidence, and offer help with grammar and sentence structure. If you don't have a paper, you might brainstorm ideas for an upcoming assignment, talk about using secondary sources, or focus on particular grammar issues common to your essays. Some tutees want to focus on reading strategies and how to conquer heavy reading loads.
What happens during an oral tutorial?
You will practice speaking and listening in numerous ways. You might discuss current events, developments in your field, topics in your classes, or American culture. You are likely to listen to videos and discuss with your tutor what you have understood or work together to analyze the speaker's perspective or decipher unfamiliar words or phrases. If you have an upcoming presentation or interview, or you just need to argue with your landlord, you might role-play with your tutor how to creatively handle these demands.
Can I have a writing tutorial that focuses only on proofreading and correcting my grammar?
The English Language Program offers grammar tutors in the Writing Center twice a week. These specially trained tutors focus on teaching you how to catch and fix your own grammatical mistakes. For more information on this service, please visit the Writing Center Web site.
During weekly tutorials with your regular tutor, the purpose is to teach you to become an editor of your own work. Your tutor will be happy to teach you how to recognize when you drop an article or miss a verb tense. Your tutor is not there to simply fix your mistakes.
How often do tutorials meet and for how long?
Tutorials meet once a week for 50 minutes for two semesters, usually for one year. Sometimes students may request a tutor for a second year, depending on need.
What if an hour is not enough for my work?
You will not always have the opportunity to finish all the material you bring to a tutorial. The tutorial is meant to help you become your own best self-editor, to teach you skills that you can use to review your own work. If you really need to have more than one hour a week, sometimes a second tutorial is possible, either on a regular basis or for a single time. Your tutor will seek the permission of the director if he or she feels additional attention is necessary. When this is not possible, you should go to the Writing Center for additional help.
If I don't have any work, what happens during a tutorial? Do I still have to attend?
Yes, you do. A tutorial is like a class, and since our resources are limited, we need to make sure we make the best use of your investment through regular attendance.
While it is your responsibility to come to the tutorial with questions and material, your tutor also has experience in helping you prepare for effective classroom participation or improving your writing, even without an immediate project. You might work on how to summarize an article for writing or practice tongue twisters or minimal pairs (a pronunciation exercise) for oral skill tutorials.
What if I only want to come occasionally?
A tutorial is a commitment like a class and is intended to give a student ongoing support in strengthening his or her English language proficiency. If you only need help occasionally, then you should go to the Writing Center, which offers both appointments and a drop-in service.
Can I have an online tutorial via e-mail or Skype?
No, we value face-to-face interaction and do not support an online approach to tutorials.
When do tutorials start?
Tutorials begin the week following shopping period for classes, once your schedule is set.
Where do tutorials meet?
Tutorials are held in the tutor's office in Rabb, Golding, Gerstenzang or the English Language Program center in the library. Once you are assigned a tutor, he or she will notify you of a time and place to meet.
What do I do if I have to reschedule a tutorial?
Most tutors are willing to reschedule a tutorial as long as they have sufficient advance notice. If you know you cannot come to a tutorial, let your tutor know as soon as you can-at least by the night before. Use e-mail and check your e-mail at least once a day for communications from your tutor. Cancellations or rescheduling should only be done for cases of illness or emergency.
How much does a tutorial cost?
Tutorials are university-funded and therefore do not cost Brandeis students any additional funds.
What is the English language proficiency diagnostic test?
This diagnostic test aims to identify weaknesses in your academic English language skills that may interfere with course work, teaching and doing research at Brandeis. It is offered to incoming GSAS and IBS students whose first language is not English. It will be held during graduate orientation and will take about two hours to test your listening, reading and writing skills. You will also be asked to sign up for a short interview. After taking this diagnostic test, you will receive the results, which are strictly informative and will not affect your status as an admitted graduate student.
Are there any English Language Program classes offered at Brandeis?
Yes, graduate students may enroll in one-credit 200 level ESL courses. Two courses, oral skills and written skills, are offered every semester (refer to course catalog for numbers and descriptions). These ELP courses focus on English for Academic Purposes, integrated with graduate study skills needed at a major research university. Students receive ‘credit/no credit', where credit is granted for satisfactory work and no credit is granted for unsatisfactory work. Credit is awarded if all requirements are met at an acceptable level and the student attends at least 90% of class meetings.
What about ELP classes for undergraduate students?
Currently we only have a summer/fall intensive ELP courses for students admitted into the Gateway Scholars Program. We may be offering oral skills workshops for other non-native English speaking undergraduate students in the near future. If you are interested in finding out more about these oral skills workshops, then please send an email to the English Language Program Director.