ESL Student Handbook

Written by Young-Kyung Min, PhD


Students who do not speak English as their native language may face many challenges as they begin their college career in an English-medium academic environment. These resources below are designed to provide practical guidelines and strategies to help students be successful in their academic endeavors here at the University of Washington Bothell. Although there are discipline-specific conventions and rules, the general information and tips on writing, reading, and speaking strategies on this website are aimed to help ESL students get started as they learn to communicate their ideas in written and spoken English. These resources provided are intended not only to assist students with their course assignments and projects, but also to help students better understand US university life and culture. Developing academic literacy skills will not happen overnight; it requires earnest efforts and continuous practice. Please continue to visit the website as more resources will be addedto this section.

The Writing Process

What is a writing process? Here is an overview of the concept of “a writing process” and some practical strategies you want to use to approach your writing assignment as a process.

The University of Washington Bothell Writing and Communication Center

Get to know about the crucial role that the Writing and Communication Center can play for your education and the various services that the UWB Writing and Communication Center provides for you.

Brainstorming Strategies

Brainstorming is a very important part of your writing process. Learning effective brainstorming strategies can eventually help you develop your writing muscles and enhance the effectiveness of your learning across the curriculum.

Coherence and Cohesion

Connecting your ideas at the idea level as well as at the sentence level is a very important aspect of academic writing.  Learn more about ways of improving coherence and cohesion in your writing.

Thesis Statements

Constructing a solid, clear thesis statement is not an easy task for either native or non-native English speaking students. Learn more about the very concept of thesis statement and ways of constructing an effective thesis statement that captures the key ideas of your paper.

Research Papers

Is your research paper a portfolio project? What are differences between primary sources and secondary sources? Here is some basic information you should check out before starting your research project.

Academic Integrity & Plagiarism

What is academic integrity? Learn about the concept of academic integrity and some practical strategies you can use to avoid plagiarism.


Qualifying your claim will eventually strengthen your argument. Here are some practical strategies you can use to strengthen your argument.


Parallelism basically means that you use words and phrases that have the same grammatical form to enhance the cohesion of your writing. Here are some examples that can help you better understand parallelism structure.

Revision Strategies

Remember that revision means much more than fixing grammatical mistakes or typing mistakes. Learn more about useful re-vision strategies that can help you see the same paper from a different lens and ultimately enhance your learning of the material.

Reading Strategies

The more in-depth reading you do, the more in-depth writing you will eventually do. Here are some practical reading strategies you can use.

Source Use & Synthesis Skills

Do you want to improve your ability to use sources effectively for your writing assignments? Here are some useful strategies you can use to summarize, quote, and paraphrase sources.

Dropped Quotation

Have you had comments from your professors that your paper had a dropped quotation? Have you had difficulty integrating quotes into your paper? Learn some practical strategies that you can use to integrate quotes into your writing. 

Vocabulary Building

It is essential that you learn systematic vocabulary acquisition strategies to maximize your vocabulary power. Here are some strategies you can use.


Want to improve your English speaking abilities? Check out the resources and strategies you can use to improve your oral communication skills.

Email Communication

You create an image about yourself through email communication. Learn email etiquette for effective communication with your professors.

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For More Information on This Handbook

Yung-Kyung Min, PhD
Education Program