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Appendix Two - Short Courses and Workshops

PLaCE Short Courses emphasize English language development at the intermediate and advanced levels. Instructors provide personalized support through learner-centered design and instruction. To help students choose options to fit their learning needs, goals, and schedules, we offer Short Courses in four formats organized by four language areas (see below for details).

We invite all international students to find an option that fits your goals. This page provides information about the PLaCE Short Course program but email us at if you have questions or want to set up a placement consultation

Enrollment Information

  • Short Courses are open to all undergraduate or graduate international students but are especially popular with graduate students. (see enrollment site for more details on registration process). Visiting Scholars are welcome on a space available basis.
  • Short Courses require no additional fees to enroll.
  • Students self-select the course but are encouraged to contact the instructor or a PLaCE staff member before they enroll in a Short Course so that they find a course that is a good fit for them.
  • Classes are non-credit, are not graded, and do not appear on transcripts; however, students can earn a Certificate of Completion.
  • One of the main reasons students drop Short Courses is because of conflicts with their academic or research duties, so we strongly encourage graduate students to talk with advisors before enrolling

Short Course Schedules and Logistics

The Short Course space was developed to optimize teaching and learning opportunities for busy Purdue students:

  • Short Courses are organized into two six-week sessions during the semester. Short Courses start one or two weeks after the start of the fall and spring semesters, and end one or two weeks earlier, to accommodate the busiest times of the semester. By starting a bit later, we give students time to settle into their academic schedules. Students often have finals and presentations at the end of the semester, so we try not to go too late. We also factor in holidays and breaks during the semester (especially Thanksgiving and spring vacation).
  • The standard teaching schedule for all types of Short Courses for one session is 15 hours of classes per session (twelve 75-minute classes) on a MW or TR schedule, plus student-teacher conferences. We typically do not schedule Short Courses for Fridays, although instructors can schedule conferences or workshops on Fridays. Instructors may adapt this standard schedule for their topic and course outcomes. For example, instructors could hold class twice a week for five weeks and schedule individual conferences with each student during week six.
  • During summer sessions, limited Short Courses may be offered on a more condensed schedule (such as daily classes for three weeks).
  • Short Courses can be offered in different modalities (e.g., in-person, online, or hybrid), depending on semester, type of course, learning outcomes, and room availability. Some options (such as Academic Writing and Clear Speech) work very well through virtual classes and conferences, while others (such as Conversation and Discussion Skills) tend to work best in person.
  • Course texts, materials, and resources. Instructors will inform students of any required texts; most instructors provide materials and resources to students through a Brightspace non-credit course

Short Course Formats

Language Courses

Language Courses are non-credit classes of six weeks, on specific English-language skills or communication-based activities. Language courses are our version of a traditional language class: Students attend weekly classes that follow a curriculum, with the option to meet with an instructor periodically. Language Courses focus on skill development at the intermediate or advanced level. Please refer to Language Areas for more details and class titles.


Practicums are a type of Short Course that emphasize individualized instruction and feedback on a specific project, such as a paper, presentation, or job application. Students should expect to bring a work in progress or develop a new project in the Practicum. Enrollment is limited to allow for one-to-one consultations between instructor and students. Schedules vary by instructor and topic, but in a Practicum, students can expect to meet several times a class and to schedule regular individual conferences with the instructor.


Workshops are a modular version of our language courses and topics. Workshops are a good fit for students who cannot commit to a Language Course or Practicum. Content is organized into one or two-day workshop formats, and individual workshops are often organized in into a series or “toolbox” so that students can pick and choose individual sessions of interest. Participants also have the option to schedule an individual consultation with an instructor after attending a workshop.

Conversation Clubs

Conversation Clubs are designed for students who want to take a break from their academic work to speak English in a fun, social setting. Students can expect to meet new people, visit new places, and learn about new and interesting cultural topics. Recent topics include Campus Connections, Purdue Sports, and Sustainability.

Language Areas, with Class Titles and Descriptions

Speaking, Conversation, and Culture

  • Clear Speech: Intermediate Skills. In this class, students will learn how essential skills that will help them to speak and understand US English more clearly and fluently through practice of clear vowel sounds and sound patterns in spoken American English (including stress, rhythm, and melody).
  • Clear Speech: Advanced Skills. In this class, students will learn advanced features of the pronunciation and prosody of US English so that they can better understand American English speakers and/or develop a more “listener friendly” pronunciation of their own. This class is appropriate for students who have completed
  • Clear Speaking: Intermediate Skills and/or already have control of individual sounds of English pronunciation.
  • Conversation and Discussion Skills. In this class, students will learn language and communication strategies to improve their interpersonal communication skills. Students will learn and practice 14language patterns of American English that they can use to start, maintain, and end social conversations as well as participate more actively in class discussions.
  • Conversation Club: Variable Topics. Are you busy with classes, meetings, or research, but still want to connect with others and spend time talking in English in a more social setting? This course is designed to provide a supportive setting for international students to regularly communicate in English and learn about various aspects of American culture. Topics vary by instructor and session. Current offerings include:
    • American Gaming Culture: Do you want to practice English in a fun, social setting? 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.
    • Campus Connections. Purdue has a large and multifaceted campus, which means there are many ways to connect, new places to visit and new things to talk about. The goal of this class is to provide a forum for students to form new and deeper connections with campus and with peers through weekly explorations. In this course, we will learn about and visit a different location or event on campus each week (such as galleries, presentations, public displays, and outdoor settings). The first session each week will be in class, to learn relevant background knowledge and vocabulary. The second session will be a field trip or site visit, where the class visits a new place, in person, to learn and discuss.
    • Sustainability. This course will focus on the theme of Sustainability, an increasingly important topic in the world and across academic and professional fields. During the course, we will look at how sustainability can be applied to different majors and academic fields, as well as to different areas of the world. Students will be encouraged to discuss the topic from their personal and academic perspective, and to learn from peers’ experiences and perspectives.
    • Understanding American Humor. Do you want to improve your understanding of American humor? In this class, you will receive humor competency training and develop micro-skills of identifying, comprehending, and appreciating American humor, including sarcasm. You will also learn about the General Theory of Verbal Humor (Attardo and Raskin, 1993). Activities during class include discussions on various cultural topics, listening tasks, humor identification and comprehension exercises, Kahoot! online games, and role plays

Presentation, Public Speaking, and Professionalization

  • Presentation and Public Speaking Skills. In this class, students will gain confidence and skills to speak to an audience in academic and professional settings. The bulk of class time will be spent preparing for and delivering short speeches and presentations for an academic audience. Students will deliver multiple short speeches and presentations and will give and receive feedback from classmates and instructor.
  • Research Presentation Skills. In this class, students will learn presentation language and skills that will help them with research presentations in settings like graduate seminars, research groups, dissertation defenses, and professional conferences and symposia.
  • Virtual and Multimodal Presentation. In this class, students will learn about different technologies and design strategies that can help them to communicate in a more engaging way. Multimodal presentations integrate different modalities (language, visuals, sounds, etc.) and technologies. Students will also learn how to make a multimodal presentation related to their academic, professional, or research.
  • Presentation Practicum. In this class, students will prepare for an upcoming presentation and extensively practice their presentation skills in a supportive small group setting. Students are expected to bring or create their own presentation during the course. As a practicum, class size is limited to allow for one-to-one consultations between instructor and students.
  • Professionalization Skills for Interpersonal Interactions. In this class, students will prepare for oral communication situations that are part of the process of applying for internships, graduate school, and jobs. Students will work on specific types of interpersonal interactions such as introductions, networking, interviews, and question-and-answer strategies. Class size is limited to allow for more practice and feedback

Academic Writing

  • Grammar for Academic Writing. In this class, students will learn about language structures and choices at the levels of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.
  • Clear Writing: Sentences and Paragraph. In this class, students will learn how to write more effectively by improving the clarity, flow, structure, and style of their writing.
  • Essentials of Academic Writing. In this class, students will learn about common types of academic writing, practice academic writing tasks and skills, and try out resources and strategies for independent use.
  • Research Writing. In this class, students will learn about the genre of research writing, including skills and conventions common to different types of research writing, and features of different types of research writing (such as papers, scientific articles, and dissertations).
  • Academic Writing Practicum. In this class, students will engage in intensive academic writing in a supportive setting of small group instruction and intensive, individualized feedback and revision. Students are expected to bring or create their own writing projects or manuscripts. As a practicum, class size is limited to allow for one-to-one consultations between instructor and students.
  • Professionalization Practicum: Applications and Academic Portfolio. In this class, students will prepare documents for professional purposes such as applying for internships and jobs. Students will learn about and work on specific types of writing such as cover letters, CVs, teaching and research statements, and statements of purpose. Students are expected to bring or create their own documents or drafts. As a practicum, class size is limited to allow for one-to-one consultations between instructor and students.

Vocabulary and Reading

  • Building your Vocabulary. In this class, students learn a systematic framework of vocabulary types and study effective techniques to learn vocabulary. Students use this knowledge to set personalized learning goals for word knowledge and vocabulary for academic, personal, or professional use.
  • Vocabulary and Idioms in American Language and Culture. In this class, students learn American idioms, expressions, collocations, and slang, while also improving their reading, listening, and speaking skills. The course examines everyday cultural topics using discussions and a variety of activities.
  • Essential Reading Skills and Strategies. In this class, students learn how to become more successful readers for academic performance and language development. Students will learn how to improve core reading skills of fluency and vocabulary and to use active reading strategies to improve comprehension.
  • PLaCE Reading Club. In this class, students will read a book and engage with peers in activities to expand their reading experience. As a “reading club,” this course is an inclusive, supportive environment for students to read and discuss interesting books with peers. Book titles vary by session and are chosen to be of general interest so that all students may participate. Class activities help students get more out of the text and develop their language knowledge and reading skills

Note: Not all classes are offered each semester. Please see our registration page for details on current