English Language Support
Whether English is your second or third language, the Student Success Centre offers several services to help non-native speakers improve their spoken and written English. We provide the Speakeasy Program (one-on-one support from a volunteer student) and Conversation Circle (group-based support).
The Speakeasy Program is a partnership program aimed at joining English-speaking students with ESL students. The goal of the Speakeasy Program is to help ESL students improve their command of English, strengthen discussion skills, and broaden their level of verbal self-expression. The program's secondary goal is to expand knowledge of foreign cultures and build friendships across the McMaster community.
In order to accomplish these goals, volunteers are paired with English as a Second Language Persons (ESLPs) to establish a friendship and comfortable environment for learning. Pairs often read a newspaper, magazine, academic literature, or a short story together, and discuss pronunciation, idioms, slang, grammar, and vocabulary. Speakeasy typically runs from mid-September to the end of March.
Participants can expect:
- To meet each other for one hour per week in a location and time agreed upon by both students
- To bring any literature or material they wish to discuss in their regular meetings
- To learn about new cultures and make new friends
- Social events and celebrations each term (fall & winter) for everyone involved in Speakeasy & Conversation Circle!
The Speakeasy program is not accepting applications at this time. Please check back in early September to apply for the program.
To practice communication in a small group setting, Conversation Circle allows ESL students and volunteers to discuss a topic based on chosen materials, such as video clips, current events, newspaper articles, or stories. Discussion is facilitated by the Speakeasy and Conversation Circle Coordinators and usually involves a group of approximately six participants.
Conversation Circle also exposes students to different perspectives and cultures, and improves overall academic success by enhancing communication and thinking skills.
If you would like to participate in a Conversation Circle please email the Speakeasy Coordinators at .
January to April 2014
Weekly Converation Circles will be held every Thursday from 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. in Mills Library L310-D. All students are welcome to attend.
Many resources for ESL students are available online to help you with grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and listening, and provide links to exercises, quizzes, and other ESL information.
Grammar and Vocabulary
Adult ESL Resources: List of print and internet resources
Internet TESL Journal: Links to interactive games, puzzles and idioms
Dave's ESL Café: Provides a wide range of materials for students including, grammar, vocabulary and slang
ESL instruction from the Purdue Online Writing Lab : Detailed explanation of grammar issues
Aardvark's English Forum: Includes many interactive exercises on vocabulary and grammar
University of Victoria Study Zone: Materials at all levels including quizzes
Guide to Grammar and Writing: Ask questions and receive answers within 24 hours
English Grammar Quizzes : Includes vocabulary and other English quizzes
Activities for ESL students: Grammar and vocabulary quizzes and activities
The Tower of English: Directory of English tutors, Schools and Classes
ESL Wonderland: Listening, reading and grammar activities
Many Things: Resources for beginners
English Club: Reading, writing, articles, quizzes and jokes
Grammar Exercises for ESL Beginners: Helpful materials
English as a Second Language: Interactive quizzes on difficult points
Athabaska University - English Grammar Handbook: Summary of grammar
Pronunciation and Listening
Sounds of English: Pronunciation quizzes and activities as well as links
English pronunciation and listening skills: Practice exercises including minimal pairs and tongue twisters
Authentic American Pronunciation: Real Player and You Tube videos
Randall's ESL Cyber-Listening Lab: Exercises, quizzes and video
ESL Independent Study Lab: Listening exercises and materials
ESL Classes, Programs and Articles
ESL in Canada Directory: Guide to programs, classes and articles