PDP-Tao Tao Li, Graduate Assistant, Chemistry
“I took three professional development courses -- Academic Writing, Oral Communication and Preparing TAs to be effective Teachers -- and I learned something different from each one. For example, I really understand and know how to establish structure in my writing. I also realize what kinds of words are not suitable in academic writing, which helps me eliminate informal language and prevent embarrassing mistakes…. I also feel much more confident about doing professional presentations. The courses gave me more chances to express my opinion in English. I learned about what topics are toboo in English, what topics people are interested in, how to communicate with others more efficiently and make friends more easily. Finally, I see that it is very important to believe yourself, try to communicate better with your TA partners, coordinators and students.”

An estimated 15 percent of UAB’s graduate students and post doctoral fellows are not native English speakers. Although they may have studied English for many years and may have attended an English-speaking university, most internationals are surprised to find that interacting and competing in a rigorous academic setting demand high levels of English language skills. Many want to improve their English proficiency in order to maximize their education, speak more confidently in professional settings, compete successfully for grants and scholarships, write and publish in English-language journals. Some plan to work in this country as teaching assistants, researchers, or professors. Others are collaborating with international, interdisciplinary teams that call for advanced levels of communication in English, both oral and written. For these individuals, the Professional Development Program offers four main types of support.

  • Communicating Your Thoughts: Academic Writing. Designed for intermediate and advanced students, these courses assist students with everything from writing essays, critiques, and short academic texts to crafting conference posters, research papers, and journal articles. Additionally, we offer specialized instruction for dissertation authors.
  • Getting Your Ideas Across: Speaking and Presentation. For intermediate and advanced speakers of English who need to express themselves clearly and confidently in seminar discussions, casual conversations, or class presentations, these dynamic communication courses can help students master the subtleties of language and boost their cultural interaction skills.
  • Speaking With Confidence: Pronunciation. Designed for international students who want help with pronunciation, these introductory and advanced courses are for those who desire to improve and polish the speech and voice portion of their professional presentations. In addition, we offer individualized instruction in pronunciation and accent improvement. Testimonials from pronunciation graduate students and post docs
  • Presenting Professionally: Presentation & Teaching. For individuals who need to make presentations for seminars, journal clubs, lab meetings, or professional conferences or want to learn how to teach effectively in American higher education settings, these courses offer expert instruction plus real-life scenarios, networking, and group problem-solving with other teachers and presenters.

Click on Faculty to read about our instructors. Check out the Current Schedule for a list of available Academic English and Professional Development offerings.