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, , , Bienvenidos,

Selamat Datang: Welcome to the Liberal Arts!

TU Summer Online Preparatory Program

In this module
Step 1: Cultural Considerations
Step 2: Common Academic Practices
Step 3: Position Statement on ESL
Step 4: Contacts and More

Pre-Reading Questions

Step 1: Cultural Considerations

In the United States, critical thinking is defined as an act of discovery and freedom through reason
and imagination. Education here emphasizes individual responsibility for generation and public
expression of ideasand often includes collaboration between scholars in different academic
disciplines. Within this cultural context, students are expected to ask critical questions that often
show disagreement with classmates and professors.
To find out more about the critical thinking process and how this process influences class
discussions and reading and writing expectations, click on the icon below and study the definitions
and explanations provided by the Foundation for Critical Thinking .
You can also find out more about how critical thinking plays a major role in the history and
philosophy of the liberal arts orientation to learning by visiting Transylvania Universitys Liberal
Arts webpage.

What do you want to learn at Transylvania University, and how do

you expect to learn?

What classesunrelated to your

professional or career goalsdo
you expect to complete here?
(Your answer can include any classeseven ones that you imagine)

What kinds of classes, learning

strategies, etc. do you think a
liberal arts education includes?

Do You Know?
The academic community at Transy
emphasizes individual responsibility
for generation and public expression
of ideasand often includes
collaboration between scholars in
different academic disciplines.
As important members of this
community, students are expected to
ask critical questions about
assumptions on which arguments
depend, and deliberation often leads
us to respectfully disagree with one

Step 2: Common Academic Practices

As an international student working in English as your second (or third,
fourth, etc.) language, what can you expect from Transy academic
View your education as more than a path to a
good job. Liberal arts institutions, like most
universities, emphasize critical reading, writing,
and thinking about subjects and issues. But the
difference between Transylvania and other
kinds of institutions is in our approach to critical
learning. Your classes at Transylvania will
focus on critical skills and will not always relate
directly to any particular job or profession. You
will spend much of your time studying and
discussing connections across disciplines. For
example, as a business student, you might
study how cultures address economic
problems. You might read a novel in an English
class in which the main character is an
immigrant to the United States. In a history
class, you might study the history of
immigration in the United States and at the
same time study the social problems of
immigration in a sociology class and the
politics of immigration in a political science
class. Always approach your studies with an
interdisciplinary curiosity, and develop critical
skills that allow you to understand and
communicate about these connections.

Define your progress beyond the grades. The

academic culture of the United States,
especially in liberal arts institutions like
Transylvania, does not focus on grades as the
only measure of learning. Your progress as a
thinker and the richness and sophistication with
which you can critically discuss ideas and
solve problems are most valued.

Learn through process. Most classes at

Transylvania will use some form of processbased assessment. This means that you will
receive feedback from instructors in the form of
comments on your work. Often, your
instructors will meet with you one-on-one to
develop strategies for improvement of your
work. You then will revise assignments or
otherwise apply instructor suggestions to future
work you complete in the class. For written
work in particular, you will compose many
drafts, revising each substantially. The grades
you receive reflect your progress over the
series of drafts.

Learn about forms of address before you arrive

in the United States. There are a few things to
remember about addressing people with whom
you interact in the classroom and beyond.
Purdue OWL offers this advice: When in
doubt, ask. If the person with whom you are
speaking doesnt explicitly tell you his/her/their
preferred form of address (although many
instructors will on the first day), just say, What
should I call you? or How should I address
you? This is a certain way to get it right.
The OWL goes on: Who cares if shes married
or not? In recent years, women without a
doctoral degree have shifted away from Mrs.
and Miss toward the more generally
applicable Ms. (pronounced mizz). Single
men in academic and professional spheres are

addressed as Mister, and after getting married

they are still addressed as Mister. Gender
equality means that marital status is just as
unimportant for women. Use Ms. unless the
person is explicit about her preference for
Miss or Mrs.
Titles are used only with family names. Some
people will mistakenly apply a title to a given
name (for example, Ms. Nancy for an
administrative assistant named Nancy
Krajenski). Addressing someone this way
comes across as unusual, and even as a bit of
a joke. Instead, use only family names (last
names) with titles (Ms. Krajenski) (Purdue
OWL, US Higher Education: A "Local"
Begin to think about graduate school and jobs.
When you arrive at Transy, visit the Career
Development Office to work on your resume,
cover letter, internship and graduate school
application materialsand to develop solid
strategies for success with your career plans.
Visit the Office on the lower level of the Mitchell
Fine Arts Building (MFA) or contact the Office
at to set up
an appointment.

Check your email dailyand more than once.

Staff members, professors, administrators, and
students all use email as an essential form of
communication in the United States. Failing to
respond to an email at the very least
communicates a lack of interest and could
result in your missing essential information
about classes, campus events, and emergency
information. Always respond to emails as
quickly as possible. Remember to follow
appropriate etiquette, too (read Marianne Di
Pierros "Email Etiquette" in Module #1). Be
polite and direct. If youre unsure about the
correctness or appropriateness of a message
that you write, show it to someone you trust
an instructor, the International Student
Services Coordinator, the English as a Second
Language Specialist (me!), or a Writing Center
consultant before you send the email.

If you dont know or are confused, ask. Your

instructors very carefully design their courses
to guide you through the process of
questioning and reflecting on your own
assumptions and views. Address any
frustration by setting up a time to meet with
your instructor. Never ask him or her, Why did
I get a C on this assignment? Instead, ask,
How can I improve on the skills involved in this
assignment? This approach says to your
professor that you want to work with him or her
to learn the skills and not just make the good
grade. Remember that at Transylvania your
instructors encourage you to keep in touch with
them about your academic progress and your
concerns. They want to work with you!

Vocabulary for Academic

Support Services
Study this vocabulary list. Use the
Oxford Learners Dictionaries to
help you define the terms below:
assumption (argument)
argument (academic)
Reason (noun and verb)
examine (verb)
challenge (verb)
reflect on (verb phrase)
question (verb)
respect (verb)
academic community
critical/critically (academic)
discipline (academic)
underlying (adjective)
perspective (noun)

Tips: Studying
in the Liberal

Participate actively and thoughtfully in class.

Unlike large universities, Transylvania keeps
the number of students enrolled in courses low.
Within these small classes, students and
instructors openly interact, debating, analyzing,
and interpreting the ideas found in required
texts. Instructors will ask you questions about
what you read and will expect you to respond
thoughtfully. This way of engaging in class
discussions helps you learn to fairly and
critically listen and then respond to the views
expressed in texts and in discussions. At times,
you will agree with what you see, hear, and
read. At other times, you will disagree with your
classmates and your instructor. The important
thing is to be fair and respectful in your
approach. You might feel that your classmates
and instructor think that your English is flawed.
Dont let these feelings stop you from speaking
in class. You will find that everyone values your
thoughts as essential contributions to the
conversation. Speak out and share your
unique views!
NOTE: if you feel that you cant speak out in
class, meet with your instructor about
alternative ways you can express your views.
Also, consider visiting your English as a
Second Language Specialist, James Wright
(me!), about strategies for active participation
in class.

work that shows your full engagement in the

entire process. Of course, you might not be
familiar with this kind of work. Let your
instructor know about your lack of familiarity
and work with him or her to find ways that you
can improve. Also, meet with your English a
Second Language Specialist, James Wright
(me!), to discuss options for making group
work productive.

Take courses in a wide range of

subjects: science, math,
sociology, business, language,
psychology, art, and on and on.
This approach allows you to see
people, places, and things from
many viewpoints and can lead
you to dynamic interpretations,
arguments, and solutions. Stay
curious about everything!

Be a Dynamic Learner!
Show respect for and fairness to
beliefs and knowledge very
different from your own, possibly
even allowing these differences
to shape your own understanding
of the world.
Question what you read, see, and
hear. Some examples include,
So what? and Is this an
accurate or inaccurate
assumption? and How does this
affect the argument and the
community involved? and Do I
agree or disagreeor both? and
How can I respond? These
questions help you discover your
own critical understanding of

Attend all classes and arrive on time.

Instructors and University policies require you
to attend your classes, to arrive on time, and to
come to class prepared with all required
materials (e.g. textbooks, notebooks, pencils/
pens, laptops, etc.). Instructors at Transylvania
have no tolerance for tardiness and lack of

Make group work productive. Liberal arts

schools like Transylvania consider
collaboration a vital part of education. When
peer-reviewing written work, creating projects,
developing presentations, or completing other
assignmentsboth during and outside of class
timeyour instructors will ask you to work
closely with other classmates in small groups,
frequently in partnership with organizations in
the Lexington community. Such work teaches
you to generate ideas collaboratively, to
effectively bring those ideas to a particular
audience, and to reflect on your own
interactions with partners and communities.
You also practice intellectual responsibility.
Take these collaborative activities seriously by
contributing actively and by always producing

Reflecting on Your Experiences?

Learn more about strategies for keeping track of and critically
thinking about what you learn.
Mapping your intellectual journey in the United States and at Transy is one way to
use English to critically and emotionally identify, summarize, synthesize, and reflect
on your transformation as a student and thinker. You can carefully interpret and
reflect on what you hear, see, smell, taste, think, and feel in writing and through
digital and online technology, such as a blog. Considering the details of your
experience allows you to draw accurate conclusions and avoid overgeneralizations
that lead to stereotypes and prejudices. Research shows that this kind of reflection
improves your recall and leads to discovery of new ideas and solutions. Through this
summer preparation program, you have already begun this process! To view a
sample of this kind of reflection, browse the Transy First-Year Seminar: Expository
(FYSE) course blog, as well as the linked blogs written by former students of FYSE,

Step 3: Statement on English-Language Learning and Learners

To Each International and multilingual Student: You arrive at Transylvania University with
amazing linguistic and cultural talents and insights that are informed by your distinctly
individual experiences and personality and by your life in your home country and culture.
The English as a Second Language Specialist, the Writing Center, the TU Library, and the
First-Year Program recognize that your contributions to intellectual, linguistic, and cultural
development of our community are essential. We shape our approaches to English-language
learning as collaborative and imaginative responses to you as an individual learner with
complex academic and social expectations and needs. For more information on our
approaches to English-language learning and learners, see the Conference on College
Composition and Communication Statement on Second Language Writing and
Writers (2014).

Post-Reading Questions

Important Online Resources

National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
An important statement on your rights as a multilingual learner by the largest council for
English-language teaching and learning.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Another important statement on multilingual learners and learning by the largest English as a
Second Language advocacy organization in the world.

What does the phrase liberal

arts mean to you now, after
reading the material above?

How is learning at Transy

similar and different from
learning in your
home country?

What is your plan for

addressing the differences
before you arrive at Transy and
once you are here?