ESL Services for International Students

English as a Second Language (ESL) Services
The law school's English as a Second Language Services help students improve their English language skills and, more generally, assists students with the challenges of being advanced English language learners at a U.S. law school. All services are offered or coordinated by an expert in English as a Second Language.

Diagnostic Writing Assessment
The Diagnostic Writing Assessment (DWA) is a twenty-five minute essay writing assessment that informs students about their overall English language writing skills and about specific strengths and weaknesses. Four major skill areas - fluency, organization, vocabulary, and grammar - are assessed, as are additional subordinate skills, such grammatical level and overall coherence and unity.

Private ESL Consultation
Northwestern Law has an in-house ESL specialist who can support international students with their language difficulties and questions, including provide one-on-one tutoring, if necessary. Please contact Jamie.Darney@law.northwestern.edu to make an appointment.

Discussion Groups
Bi-Weekly discussion groups facilitated by NU Alumni, faculty, staff, and community and/or business leaders are offered each semester to help students immerse themselves in an English-speaking environment and maximize opportunities to develop overall English abilities.

Students often form friendships with fellow students of diverse native languages and cultures and with the discussion group host. Discussions generally center on news - especially news related to law, politics, or business - and students' cultural challenges and adventures.

Writing Coaches
Second language students are assigned Writing Coaches based on need and availability. Writing Coaches are second- or third-year native English-speaking law students who are recommended by Communication and Legal Reasoning professors to work with international students. These coaches assist students with the English language aspects of law school writing assignments, such as CLR assignments and seminar papers. The Writing Coach typically edits a small portion of a student's assignment and then uses the revealed pattern of grammatical and other errors to inform the student regarding how to edit the rest of the paper.

Pronunciation Workshops & Software
Ongoing pronunciation workshops are offered to all international students. Workshops focus on various topics, such as intonation, stress, or typical errors for a specific first language group. The Law School also has an agreement to provide access to Native Accent pronunciation software at an extremely reduced fee to all international students. This cutting-edge software utilizes speech recognition technology and an intelligent tutor system to dramatically improve pronunciation.

Speaking Feedback Tests
Throughout the semester students may sign up for the Speaking Feedback Test. By providing the ESL specialist with a timed sample of speech, detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement are provided.

Grammar & Sentence Structure Workshops
Throughout the semester, grammar and sentence structure workshops are offered on a variety of topics, such as clauses, articles, verb tenses, and so on. These workshops give students the opportunity to review and practice areas of English grammar and sentence structure that are commonly difficult for students.

Writing Feedback Tests
Throughout the semester students may sign up for the Writing Feedback Test. By providing the ESL specialist with a timed sample of writing, detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement are provided.

Specialized ESL Workshops
Additional specialized programming for ESL students is also offered during each semester, such as workshops on ESL self-study techniques, workshops on effective note-taking, or workshops on increasing reading fluency.