English

Overview
Courses
Washington, D.C.
SAIS Europe
Proficiency Requirement
Resources
Contact
English
Offered in Washington, DC and Bologna


The English Program helps students excel in their courses as well as in their future careers in the professional field of International Relations. English for academic and specific purposes is stressed. Courses are offered for non-native English speakers at the Advanced and Superior levels. Authentic materials are used in both courses to ensure continuous up-to-date exposure to the language and foster skill development.


In addition to the English competency exams required for admission, ALL international students (MA, PhD, MIPP, visiting scholars, etc.) whose native language is not English need to waive or take the English placement exam in Washington or the proficiency exam in Bologna to determine whether they need further training to succeed in their studies. Students who do not pass all parts of the English exam are required to take English classes during their tenure and may be asked to reduce the number of non-language courses taken per semester.

native-English speaker is a person who meets at least TWO of the following criteria:
 
  1. English is the main language of communication between you and one of your caregivers
  2. English is an official language in the community where you grew up (before high school)
  3. English is the language of instruction in the high school you attended

The program for non-native speakers of English follows a proficiency-based, thematic, and communicative approach to language learning.

Pre-Proficiency
 
For reading and writing:
  • English Reading and Writing Advanced Mid I
This class develops reading and writing skills for academic writing at the graduate level.  These skills include summarizing, paraphrasing  as well as using common organizational forms and mastering advanced grammatical features, developing good writing style and editing skills.  Texts are organized around the themes of culture and religion. 
  • English Reading and Writing Advanced Mid II
This class develops reading and writing skills for students at the advanced mid level to reach superior level in academic writing and reading.   Genres include the data analysis, critique, and literature review. Reading skills emphasize reading strategically, analyzing the structure of texts, understanding vocabulary in context, and making inferences. The themes are demography and migration. 
  • English Reading and Writing Advanced High I
This class focuses on increasing accuracy in writing through review of advanced grammatical forms, production of short texts using particular organizational patterns, such as data commentary or hypotheticals or policy papers.  The themes are economics and revolution. 
  • English Reading and Writing Advanced High II
This class develops superior level reading and writing skills.  These skills include citation conventions, arguing and recommending,  writing and reading the op-ed, control of superior level grammatical features, writing clearly and elegantly, and editing skills.  Texts are organized around the themes of agriculture and water.  

For speaking and listening plus tutorials:
  • English Listening and Speaking Advanced Mid I 
This course develops students' listening and speaking skills and increases vocabulary needed for academic coursework at SAIS and in professional environments.  Students learn to express opinions on a variety of international relations and current events. To develop public speaking skills, students deliver two oral presentations and are video recorded at least once during the semester.
  • English Listening and Speaking Advanced Mid II 
This course develops students’ skills in understanding the main ideas of speech in standard dialects, including technical discussions in a field of specialization. Students learn to follow the essentials of complex extended discourse and become sensitive to social and cultural references and affective overtones. Students develop the ability to explain in detail, narrate fully and accurately, and provide a structured argument to support their opinions all while speaking fluently. 
  • English Listening and speaking Advanced High I 
Students learn to speak fluently on abstract and theoretical academic and professional topics.  Students increase their accuracy and mastery of advanced features of grammar, vocabulary,  and discourse. Listening skills focus on the comprehension of challenging texts spoken by varied speakers.  Students give both factual and persuasive presentations and participate in interviews. 
  • English Listening and Speaking Advanced High II English Listening and Speaking Advanced High 
Students learn to present in a fluent and persuasive manner their personal and professional opinions, debate topics, present news, introduce and elaborate on a topic, give brief, succinct oral presentations, and lead and respond to discussions.  In addition, students master skills to to understand and interpret theoretical issues.  They learn to elaborate on topics in extended and cohesive discourse, varying the degree of formality and informality in their speech. Students learn to comprehend with accuracy oral reports on general and professional topics and comprehend and make reasonable inferences from personal and other narratives.


Pre-proficiency tutorials for focus on a specific skill

The objectives of the tutorials vary depending on the needs of the students enrolled.  These tutorials are designed to focus on one or two areas of weakness, such as pronunciation or fluency, particular to the students enrolled. 
 
Post- Proficiency
 
English Reading and Writing Superior Level 
This course will polish students' writing skills for use in both academic and professional environments. It gives students the opportunity to write various types of policy memos, reports and briefing materials commonly used in professional positions in government, non-profits and international institutions.. 
 
English Listening and Speaking Superior Level 
The objectives of this course are needs based, and change depending on the students enrolled.  Generally, students seek to polish their presentation and social interactive skills and improve their listening comprehension in challenging situations.  Students receive feedback on their speaking regularly and guidance on how to improve in weak areas. Other specific areas of difficulty are incorporated into the course as needed.
 

Pre-Proficiency

Advanced English I
The course aims to enhance academic writing and reading skills, develop listening comprehension, and  improve presentational and argumentative skills.  In the reading portion, students develop the ability to understand the nuances of academic definitions, summaries, short essays, and critical responses. The writing portion focuses on acquiring the skills necessary to produce the latter. Emphasis is placed on the effective use of various structural and syntactical models, as well as cohesive devices and advanced vocabulary and grammatical structures. Students are given practice in structuring and developing compare-contrast, cause-effect and problem-solution essays, while the narration of historical events is another key area of study. To hone speaking skills, students practice these same tasks in a discussion format, give an academic presentation and participate in a formal debate.
 
Advanced English II
The goal of this course is to help students develop Superior-level skills in the areas of reading, writing and listening, and to develop Advanced High- to Superior-level skills in the area of speaking. Emphasis is placed on writing effectively by using various structural and syntactical models, as well as cohesive devices, advanced vocabulary and grammatical structures. Writing topics include speculating and exploring alternative scenarios, weighing pros and cons and presenting an argument. Students are also given practice in developing other parts of the research paper. The reading portion analyzes examples of these specific topics. To hone speaking skills, students practice these same tasks in a discussion format, give an academic presentation and participate in a formal debate.
 
Writing Workshop I
This course is designed to help students refine their writing skills for specific academic purposes. Students practice writing academic definitions, summaries, critical responses, and short essays. They are also asked to analyze and reproduce specific linguistic structures and conceptual patterns associated with the research paper. For the short essays, students learn to structure and develop compare-contrast, cause-effect and problem-solution arguments. In addition, vocabulary-building is emphasized, as is the use of proper register, advanced grammar, precise vocabulary and usage. Emphasis is placed on enhancing textual cohesion through the use of effective paragraph structure, correct syntax and appropriate transitions.
 
Writing Workshop II
This course is designed to help students refine their writing skills for specific academic purposes. Students practice developing arguments for short essays and the research paper. In particular, students hone skills in writing recommendations, speculating and exploring alternative scenarios, weighing pros and cons and crafting academic introductions and conclusions. In addition, vocabulary building is emphasized as is proper register, advanced grammar, and usage. Emphasis is placed on enhancing textual cohesion through the use of effective paragraph structure, correct syntax and appropriate transitions.
 
Post-Proficiency
Writing Workshop I and II
These courses (outlined above) are also appropriate for post-proficiency students. 

In order to pass the exams, students need to obtain the following levels for each language skill:


Listening Speaking Reading Writing
Superior Advanced High Superior Superior

 

  • International MA and PhD students whose native language is not English may use English as their proficiency language provided that their concentration does not require another language for proficiency. Students must take the English exam (placement exam in Washington or proficiency exam in Bologna) at the beginning of their first semester.
  • International MIPP students whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in English by either passing the English exam or by taking and passing 2 semesters of Advanced English. Students must take the English exam at the beginning of their first semester.
  • MAIA students whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate proficiency in English by passing the English proficiency exam. Those students who apply for the MAIA program during their first semester at SAIS Europe must pass all four sections of the English proficiency prior to admission to the MAIA, i.e., by January. Those students who come from one of our partner institutions and enter as second year MAIA students must pass all four sections of the English proficiency by the end of their year in Bologna, i.e. May. Nevertheless, the proficiency exam must be taken by MAIA applicants at the beginning of the first semester.
  • For the One-Year Diploma, non-native English speakers may either pass the English proficiency exam or successfully complete two semesters of Advanced level English courses. Students must take the English proficiency exam at the beginning of their first semester.

Academic and Professional Writing websites
UAH Library
Purdue Library (This is the Purdue online writing lab.)
Effective Business Writing
Oregon_State Business
Iowa_Business Writing
ESC Business Writing (These resources will provide help with academic as well as business writing.)
 
University of Toronto, Advice on Academic Writing
Using English for Academic Purposes
University of Manchester Phrasebank
 
Writing and citation styles
Chicago Style (Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide)
MLA Style (Purdue University, Online Writing Lab)
LIU CWPost
Harvard Style (University of Exeter)
 
Books on Academic Writing:

Graff, Gerald and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say, I Say. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.
 
Feaks, Christine B. and John M. Swales. Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 3rd ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 2012.
 
Bailey, Stephen. Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. London: Routledge, 2006.
 
Ramsey Fowler, H.M. and Jane E. Aaron. The Little, Brown Handbook. Harlow: Longman, 
2011.
 

Listening Resources:
NPR (National Public Radio)
PBS (Public Broadcasting System)
BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) 

Washington, DC
Gay N. Washburn, PhD
English Language Coordinator
Writing Center Director
Rome Building, Office 305
+1-202-663-5789
gwashburn@jhu.edu
 
BOLOGNA
Rebecca Hopkins, PhD
Associate Lecturer
English Program
Room 216
+39 051 2917 885
rebeccahopkins@jhu.edu