Crafting Your Voice

Center for International and Cultural Education

Success Course for Multilingual Learners

This is an optional, half-credit, half-semester course that reviews and strengthens the basic communication skills needed to be a successful college student, like class discussion, emailing professors, presentation skills, reading academic texts, and argumentative writing. This course is designed especially for first or second-year multilingual students (students who grew up speaking a language other than English), and is usually made up of a mix of international and domestic students. This course works well as a complement to FTS, or a refresher on those skills in sophomore year.

This course runs every semester, twice per semester. The current course designation is NDL-147.

This is not an ESL course*; all Gusties speak and write English, and some who take this course identify as "native" speakers of English. Rather, this is a course that helps students find and strengthen an "academic voice"--something no one speaks or writes "natively," and what every new Gustie needs. What's special about this course is that it is specifically designed for the unique strengths and challenges that multilingual students have, and is taught by a specialist in linguistic diversity, Pam Pearson. In addition to the skills outlined above, students will leave the class understanding that "academic English" is a useful, but limited concept, and their "academic voice" is an addition to, not a replacement of, their existing linguistic repertoire. 

To stay focused, the course is always organized around some theme, which changes periodically. In Fall 2018, both sections were organized around improving content for multilingual students on the CICE website. In Spring and Fall 2019, the theme is an old, but exciting question, "Do we see the world differently in different languages?" In Spring 2020, the course theme was, "What is the history of international and linguistic diversity at Gustavus?" 

The class is capped at 10 students, and fills quickly, so don't wait too late to register! Email Pam Pearson with questions or feedback at

*That being said, students using English as a second language can get one-on-one help to strengthen specific skills, like pronunciation, intonation, grammar, vocabulary, and so on.