Short Courses

PLaCE Short Courses for English Language

Are you an international student who wants to improve your communication skills and language proficiency? If so, please consider PLaCE Short Courses. These classes provide flexible, focused options for you to meet your English language needs and to fit your schedule. They:

  • last for 6 weeks (classes meet twice a week, with an optional individual conference with the instructor)  Summer sessions range from 1 day workshops to 3 weeks of classes.
  • are non-credit-bearing (classes are not graded and do not appear on transcripts; however, students can earn a Certificate of Completion*),
  • require no additional fees (costs are covered by international student fees)
  • are taught by PLaCE’s language instructors
  • get students actively involved in language learning (classes are small and focus on having students participate)
We will be offering Short Courses and Workshops this summer.  The class schedule is available on this web site. Short Course Registration
Below are descriptions of the classes, including some new offerings for the summer.  Not all classes are offered every session.

Short Courses for Speaking

Intermediate Pronunciation & Prosody

This short course will help non-native speakers of English develop a more “listener friendly” pronunciation through practice of clear vowel sounds and the sound patterns in spoken English. The class focuses on the building blocks of English pronunciation, mainly at the syllable and word level (such as stress, consonants, and clear vowels). This class is appropriate for students who have not taken a Pronunciation course before and/or need better control of individual sounds and features of English pronunciation.  While no formal grades are given, the teacher will provide students with both written and verbal feedback.

Advanced Pronunciation & Prosody

This class is appropriate for students who have already taken Pronunciation and Prosody 1 and/or have control of individual sounds of English pronunciation, but still want to work on improving “listener-friendly” pronunciation. This short course will help non-native speakers of English by working on advanced sound patterns beyond individual sounds or words – what we often call “thought groups”. These include intonation, stress, linking, speech reductions, and rhythm.. Classes include some focused instruction and practice of specific elements of pronunciation, with many chances to practice through hands-on activities. While no formal grades are given, the teacher will provide students with both written and verbal feedback.

Presentations & Public Speaking

This short course will give students the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills. The course is student-driven, and the bulk of class time will be spent preparing for and delivering speeches of varying length in front of an audience. While no formal grades are given, the teacher will provide students with both written and verbal feedback.

NEW - Presentation Skills: "Sustainability in Your Field"


This short course will help students gain confidence in giving presentations and public speaking in English. This course will focus on the theme of Sustainability, one of the themes of Purdue’s 150 Giant Leaps ongoing celebration this year. In the course, we will look at how sustainability can be applied to different majors and academic fields, and ultimately students will give a presentation about the connection of sustainability to their own field. The short course will teach students how to organize a presentation and make an effective PowerPoint, and each class will include a range of speaking activities in each class. Please Note: As a summer course, we will meet for longer classes (3 hours), but we may adjust the exact schedule after the first day of class according to students’ needs.

NEW - Presenting with Powerpoint

In this workshop, participants will learn about effective principles for designing and delivering successful slideshow presentations. The first two sessions will be devoted to developing appropriate form and content of a slideshow presentation. The remaining two sessions will focus on verbal and non-verbal communication skills that make for a powerful delivery. This workshop meets for four 90-minute sessions during one week and will be offered twice: during week 1 and during week 2. Students are welcome to make up a missed session during the second week, attend a workshop twice and/or to set up an individual conference with the instructor.

Advanced Research Presentations

In this course, you will learn about giving 15-20 minute research presentations, and handling Q&A sessions after your presentation. We will cover things like research presentation structure, PowerPoint design, and advanced presentation skills. We will also do peer workshops so that you can get as much feedback as possible. In order to be successful in this course, you should have a research topic that you are comfortable presenting on, have some experience with public speaking, and be able to give a 15-20 minute presentation.

Academic Conversation Skills

This short course helps students communicate more effectively in classroom and other academic discussions. The majority of class time is spent preparing for and participating in peer, group, and full-class discussions. Students will gain confidence as they develop their ability to engage in academic dialogue.

Social Conversation Skills

This short course helps students communicate more effectively in face-to-face conversations (such as small talk and networking). Students will learn and practice language patterns of American English that they can use to start, maintain, and end conversations. This course will also help students navigate the complexities of social interaction in the U.S. by learning about nonverbal interaction (i.e., body language) and different types of interactions including apologies, complaints, compliments, requests, and refusals.

NEW - American Gaming Culture: Inquiry and Experience

This class is an opportunity to experience modern gaming culture while learning English at the same time. The culture of board games will be introduced as part of a process of inquiry of experiencing and reflecting on American culture. Through the medium of games, students will learn how to define, persuade, plan, predict, give commands, describe and creatively solve problems, and tell stories using English. An emphasis will be placed on group discussion about the cultural aspects of gaming, as we learn to interact in English while solving game-based problems. No prior experience with gaming is necessary, as we will be using a variety of games that are fun and easy to learn. We will also take field trips to local gaming areas, to experience different aspects of gaming culture first hand. By the end of the session, students will be able to: - Describe problems and consequences of actions - Use persuasive language to influence people to take decisions - Make predictions using a variety of patterns to describe future events - Give commands to others in socially appropriate ways - Use narrative and storytelling patterns to demonstrate creative thinking.

Short Courses for Writing and Speaking

NEW - Argumentation in Writing and Speaking


This class is designed for learners of English to enhance their written and spoken argumentation skills. It focuses on practical, productive, and ethical uses of reasoning so that you can use them in multiple academic, professional, and personal settings. Argumentation plays a very significant role in your ability to communicate efficiently and in a convincing way within the university and in your professional lives. In fact, writing and speaking in a convincing way is a skill that spans all fields and disciplines. This course will help you to become more effective critical thinkers and consumers of information and arguments. - identifying and evaluating individual and extended argument chains using standards of argument construction, types of evidences and source credibility -learning common types of logical fallacies -researching, selecting and developing appropriate supporting materials to back up an argument -adapting arguments to different audiences, purposes, and contexts -producing arguments that adhere to standards of argument construction and avoidance of fallacies -developing skills in refutation and cross examination -using appropriate language and visuals in argumentations -learning to organize arguments in a persuasive way

Short Courses for Writing

Academic Writing: Grammar of Phrases and Clauses

This course focuses on the grammatical units inside sentences: phrases and clauses. The goal of this class is to help students understand grammatical rules and patterns that they can use to write clear, correct sentences. Specific topic areas covered in the course include articles, nouns, verbs tenses, subject-verb agreement, modifiers, and relative clauses. Note: specific aspects of grammar covered in this course may vary in each session.

Academic Writing: Grammar of Sentences and Paragraphs

This course is for international students using English as a second language who want their academic writing to be clearer and more accurate. This course takes a functional approach to grammar as used in academic writing. In this sense, grammar refers to managing the structure of your written language at the level of sentences and paragraphs to create meaning clearly, communicate with the reader appropriately, and organize a message effectively. Specific aspects of grammar covered in this course may vary in each session, but typically include clause structures, punctuation conventions, sentence types and structure, paragraph patterns and organization, as well as supporting a thesis.

Academic Writing: Writing Workshop

This course is designed for international students who want to be to be more confident, accurate, efficient and effective writers through individualized and group supports from their peers and instructor. It helps you to succeed in planning your writing, revising and editing, and completing a large or small research project specific to your discipline. You will engage in practice of writing clear academic prose and thought-provoking reflection, with attention given language skills as needed. The ultimate goal of this class is to equip to deliver convincing and clear written communication and be able to revise your own writing so that you can use those skills not just in your university courses/projects, but also in your future career.

Short Courses for Reading and Vocabulary

NEW - Strategies to Build Vocabulary: Workshops 1-5

These workshops will help intermediate and advanced learners of English to improve their vocabulary knowledge. Participants will set a personal goal for vocabulary development and create an action plan to achieve that goal. Activities during the course include vocabulary assessments and using a variety of strategies, resources, and tools. Each workshop is a stand-alone event. English language learners are welcome to attend single sessions or all sessions.

Increasing your Vocabulary

This short course will help intermediate and advanced learners of English to improve their vocabulary knowledge. Participants will set a personal goal for vocabulary development and create an action plan to achieve that goal. Activities during the course include vocabulary assessments and using a variety of strategies, resources, and tools.

Vocabulary and Idioms in American Language and Culture

This course is designed to help nonnative speakers of English improve their understanding of American culture and build their vocabulary of American idioms, expressions, collocations, slang, etc. Learner outcomes include improved reading and listening comprehension, vocabulary development, and speaking. The course examines several cultural topics, such as time, sports, interpersonal relationships, and job/work.  Activities may include class discussions on various cultural topics, listening tasks, idiom exercises, quizzes, Kahoot! online games, and role plays.

Reading Fluency and Strategies

This short course helps students to read faster and with better understanding and less effort. Students will learn about the elements of reading fluency, and then will practice through a structured program of fluency development - Read Live Naturally - that includes assessment, feedback, and practice. Students will also learn about different word parts (such as prefixes and suffixes, and word origins) that will help them to recognize and understand words better. Additionally, through the use of Purdue’s library databases, participants will research relevant academic texts in their field and practice using active reading strategies to aid reading comprehension and vocabulary development.

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