Writing Resources for Instructors Working with Multilingual Students

The University of Minnesota is host to over 6,000 international students each year, and of those, many are studying in English for the first time. Learning in a second (or third) language can be challenging for students as they negotiate the academic and social demands of an American university system. This site offers instructors and staff help in understanding and addressing the unique needs of multilingual students so they can excel in researching, discussing, and drafting ideas.


Why do my students seem to communicate so differently from what I expect?
Culture heavily influences how and what students learn. This section focuses on how previous learning and environments might influence students’ work, behavior, and perceptions in an American academic setting.

Commenting on & Assessing Writing

How do I decide what to comment on?
How can I fairly assess a multilingual student’s (MLS) writing?
It can be difficult to know where to begin when reading a paper that seems to be full of non-standard English. This section focuses on giving students effective feedback for clarity, content, and language, and assessing student writing for baseline ability as well from first to final drafts.

Understanding Plagiarism

Why do some of my students think that copying experts is the way to write a paper?
The concept of plagiarism may differ across cultures. This section focuses on understanding how and why students may unknowingly (and knowingly) commit plagiarism with suggestions to help them use resources in acceptable ways.

Encouraging Participation

Why are my students so quiet?
Most good writing begins with reading about and discussing ideas. This section focuses on different ways to engage students with materials to make entering the conversation easier and more productive.


Why don’t my students seem to understand what is required of them?
It may sometimes feel like students do not understand what they are asked to do or fail to grasp important concepts in lectures or class activities. This section focuses on ensuring clear communication of tasks and ideas between instructors and students.

Other Campus Resources

Where can students get extra help with their writing?
This section includes descriptions and links to writing resources at the University of Minnesota that are specifically for multilingual students.