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U.S. English Resources 

Whatever your level of spoken English, keep in mind that it's essential to speak English and listen to English in order to improve.  You may do so either by engaging in activities specifically geared to improve your English (direct learning), or by participating in English in other activities you enjoy (indirect learning).



Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) classes (fees are charged; costs vary)

  • English classes are available at FAES for a fee.
  • Some PIs may be willing to assist with the cost of the class.

Outside Classes

Montgomery County, free programs

Northern Virginia, free programs and programs for a fee

Accent Reduction

Non-native speakers who feel comfortable in conversation but feel that they may need to improve their accents should contact professionals who specialize in accent reduction. Prices vary, so please speak with appropriate professionals about cost.

Private Tutoring

You may wish to hire a private English tutor to help you with your English. Again, we cannot endorse any particular tutors.  You may be able to find excellent tutors by referral, through advertisements, or via local English programs.  NIH Recreation & Welfare also hosts a list to help you locate these professionals, .  You will have to speak with any potential tutor about hours/pricing.

Religious Organizations

Many religious organizations offer English instruction, often taught by volunteers. You should feel free to check with your local religious organizations, even if you are not a practicing member of that religion. They may have tutors who can work with you.

OITE "Improving Spoken English" Videocast

This seminar highlights tips you can use to help your U.S. colleagues understand you more easily

Helpful Web Sites

Phonetics with animation/video/description of how to make sounds

Idioms (some are British, so check usage with someone from the U.S.)

Book Store

Tempo Book Distributors: A language resources book store with a helpful staff

Grammar and Punctuation Resources

Eggenschwiler, J., Biggs, E.D., and Reinhardt, C.L.W. (2011) CliffsNotes Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style Quick Review, 3rd Edition

Strunk, W., Jr. and White, E.B. (1999) The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition [or the 2008 50th Anniversary Edition]

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

University of Maryland Grammar Hotline.  An actual person will answer your grammar questions.  Call 301-405-3785 during business hours; at other times leave a message.  This service is available to students at the University of Maryland and to community members.


While formal learning is important, it is equally important to find activities you enjoy doing and do them in English. In this way, you will have the opportunity to improve your English, learn about culture, and build friends and a support network.


Finding activities you enjoy doing-and doing them in English-will help you meet your language goals more quickly. One trainee told us that she never felt really confident with English until she'd been coaching her daughter's basketball team for a year. Whether coaching, volunteering to tutor, taking a cooking class, doing community service, or joining a sports team of your own, you're likely to make friends and enjoy yourself while doing something you value...and while improving your English.

 OITE-TalkShare Listserv

This listserv aims to connect non-native English speakers with people who will practice English (and perhaps the non-native speaker's other language(s)) with him or her. For example, a native English speaking postdoctoral fellow who is learning French may wish to meet with a French-speaking grad student; they could go to a cafeteria or coffee shop and speak 30 minutes in French and 30 minutes in English. Volunteers (trainees or NIH staff) are also welcome to donate time to help trainees practice English. Trainees and are welcome to post a request for someone to practice with him or her. Find NIH listservs

The NIH Recreation & Welfare Association: This NIH organization sponsors a number of activities you might enjoy. Connect with each organization's leadership to learn more.

NIH Toastmasters: Toastmasters is a free club that meets weekly on the Bethesda campus. It aims to help participants (both native- and non-native English speakers) to improve their public speaking, leadership, communication, and understanding of organizational dynamics.

National Public Radio

National Public Radio (specificalyWAMU, the American University station, which has a strong signal in this area) can be found at 88.5FM on the radio or online. Programming ranges from news to general interest stories. One popular program is "Science Friday," which airs on Friday afternoons at 2pm. Online you can also listen to programs in the archives. Transcripts are available to help you check your comprehension.  NOTE: other NPR stations broadcast in DC and other cities.  Some play classical music rather than news and general interest programming.

Television News: Recommended sources for news include BBC World News and Al Jazeera which both feature international news. Watching the news for 15 minutes a day can help improve your comprehension.

Museums: The DC Metro area is a wonderful source of cultural opportunities in English. Many museums offer free tours of their facilities. Choose to do the tour in English! Check each museum's Web site for information. Some places to start are the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

Additional Ideas

**Please note: This list is for informational purposes only. Except for OITE offerings, the OITE has not reviewed these classes and cannot endorse any particular class. You will need to do additional research to determine the appropriateness of a class or activity.


 A listserv to assist you in finding partners who will practice English with you.

U.S. Culture Discussions

 Bring your lunch and join Julie Gold and the staff of the OITE for an informal discussion of US culture.

Improving Spoken English

 An intensive two-day course to help non-native English speakers communicate more easily with their colleagues in the U.S.