Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars

A professional development resource supporting international graduate students, teachers, and scholars at every stage of their academic careers.

Individual Consultations

The Bok Center provides individual consultations for international faculty, graduate students, and scholars who want to improve their teaching, speaking, or presentation skills. We offer a range of training materials focusing on language, the culture of the classroom, and professional communication specific to the needs of international teachers and scholars. To learn more about what available resources may help you meet your goals, schedule a consultation.

Our Bok Seminars for international TFs range from full-semester courses designed for students who have not yet met the GSAS Oral English Language requirement, to short seminars focused on other skills useful to international scholars including pronunciation, public speaking, and oral grammar and coherence.

Enhancing Fluency: Speaking and Listening for International TFs targets fluency, vocabulary, and listening strategies for students who need extra support.

Classroom Communication Skills for International TFs focuses on a full range of oral communication skills with particular emphasis on  oral English comprehensibility and accuracy, teaching and communication skills.

Clarity and Coherence for International TFs provides practice with written and oral strategies to improve English grammar, fluency, and coherence.

Public Speaking for Teachers and Scholars explores important elements of structure and delivery and provides a forum for practice and feedback.

Speak Up! Pronunciation for International TFs is a hands-on, interactive seminar where students assess their own pronunciation and practice strategies to improve comprehensibility.

We have asynchronous programs, training materials, and resources for individuals who want to develop English language proficiency, pronunciation, and classroom communication skills.

Oral English Proficiency Development: A Bok Self-Study Program is an online, asynchronous program for individuals to develop fluency, organizational skills, and classroom communication skills. Schedule a consultation to join this program.

Pronunciation and Intelligibility: A Bok Self-Study Program is an 11-week online, asynchronous program for any non-native English speaker who wants to improve the clarity of their English pronunciation. Schedule a consultation to join this program.

Teaching as an International Scholar: As a new international Teaching Fellow at Harvard, what questions do you have as you prepare to teach? What resources are available to support you as a teacher? Learn more about the culture of the Harvard classroom, undergraduate expectations around learning, and topics other new, international teaching fellows have found surprising. You can self-register for the Hit The Ground Running canvas site to access this training module.

To find out more about these resources and to indicate interest, reach out to Sarah Emory.

International TF Discussion Group: Each semester, International PhD students have the opportunity to join our undergraduate Culture and Communication Consultants to practice oral communication skills and discuss topics related to language, culture, teaching and current events. If you are interested in participating in Fall 2020, fill out this form.

Language Partners: This program has limited availability but may suit individuals working to meet the GSAS English Language requirement and others on a case-by-case basis. Participants meet with trained undergraduate Culture and Communication Consultants to practice oral English skills, build confidence when communicating in English, and learn more about undergraduate perspectives.

Workshops: We offer stand-alone workshops on English language and cross-cultural communication and teaching. Please visit our Workshops page to request a customized workshop for your group.

Undergraduate Consultants

Culture and Communication Consultants are hired and trained to give international graduate students an undergraduate perspective on issues related to teaching and academic life at Harvard. They work as course assistants in Bok Seminars to give feedback on both teaching and language skills and are also available for one-on-one discussion, teaching, and language practice.

Language Assessment

ACTFLWe provide English language proficiency interviews (based on ACTFL guidelines) for non-native English speaking faculty and graduate students at all stages of their academic careers, including those who need to meet the GSAS Oral English Language Requirement. For those seeking feedback or advice on their English speaking skills, the interview provides a holistic assessment, enables speakers to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and informs strategies that could be used to build proficiency. These strategies are relevant to contexts from small talk and networking to lecturing and giving formal presentations. The interview also allows us to suggest the most relevant Bok Seminars, workshops, or other resources.

We work with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) on the administration of the GSAS Oral English Language Requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we offer the GSAS Oral Proficiency Screening?
GSAS students need to be able to communicate in English effectively as students, researchers, and Teaching Fellows. GSAS uses a student’s incoming TOEFL/IELTS score or an interview to determine if students have met the GSAS Oral English Language Requirement.

Who should schedule a language interview?
Incoming G1 students with TOEFL speaking scores 25 and below or IELTS speaking scores 7.5 and below should schedule a language interview during their first semester of study. Interviews for incoming G1 students are scheduled in August and September.

How can students schedule their interview and get their results?
Once GSAS emails all incoming students about the language requirement, the Bok Center will contact the students who need to schedule a 30-minute interview. Results of the interview may be communicated in person directly after the interview or within a week by email.

How can students prepare?
There is no need to prepare for the interview. It is designed to allow students to demonstrate their ability with spoken English. The interviewer may ask about a range of topics related to daily life, interests and academic work. Students should try to be well-rested and prepared to speak at length. After the interview, we will discuss the case, and students can ask any questions they have and we will make any suggestions we have based on the students’ demonstrated language proficiency.

What are the possible outcomes of the interview and what do they mean?
The results are that you have either Met or Not Met the GSAS Oral English Language Requirement. Students who meet the requirement do not need to take further action, though we may offer suggestions to help with further language and communication development. Students who have not met the requirement will need to take steps to meet the requirement before they are eligible to work as teaching fellows.

What should a student do if they do not meet the language requirement?
Students who have not met the language requirement should take an oral communications skills course. We will recommend the best option based on a student's specific case. After completing a semester-long course, students are eligible to be re-screened to determine whether they have met the requirement. Students who do not take language or communication courses are are eligible to be re-screened after one year.

When are screenings and rescreenings offered?
Screenings are offered every August, and at the end of each term in December and May.

For more information about understanding English language proficiency and incoming language test scores please see this guide for departments, this guide for students, or contact us.

Summer Professional Communication Program for New International Scholars

Summer PCP 2019As a collaboration between the Derek Bok Center and the GSAS Office of Student Affairs, the intensive Professional Communication Program for New International Scholars provides opportunities for incoming PhD students to develop English language and professional communication skills, to explore campus and classroom culture at Harvard, and to foster connections and build community across disciplines.