ELP Summer 2015


  • A collaboration between the GSAS Office of Student Affairs and the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning Professional Communication Program for International Teachers and Scholars


  • An intensive three-week program introducing and acclimating non-U.S. Citizens to American culture with a focus on improving English language communication skills


  • An academically oriented program that incorporates community-building elements that are programmatically attuned to familiarization with the American classroom and preparation for success in the Harvard academic and social environment


  • An in-residence program with students in GSAS Residence Halls, designed to construct community amongst program participants, promote creation of lasting friendships, and build familiarity and comfort with Harvard environment




Description of Program

Housing & Food

Health Insurance



A Word from Past Participants...



How long does the program last?

The program begins Monday, August 3rd and ends Friday, August 21st, 2015.

When can I move into my room?

You can arrive as early as Saturday, August 1st, and you should have moved in to your room in the residence hall by Sunday, August 2nd

I can't come to the first couple of weeks of the program. May I arrive late?

No. You must be able to attend the full 3-week program.

My department expects me to work in a lab and/or do lab rotations in July and August. How can I do that and attend the program?

Participating departments have recognized the long-term educational benefits of this program and will allow students to devote the necessary time and attention to the program.

Description of Program

What will I learn in the program?

The program will provide an excellent opportunity to improve your English skills before courses begin. It will also provide an introduction to American culture, and is especially designed for those students without much previous extensive exposure to the United States.

In addition, it will address issues related to being a student and a teacher in the American classroom - academic expectations, cultural norms, etc.  This preparation will be particularly helpful if you are scheduled to teach early in your program.

I have already had a lot of English classes. How will this one help me?

This program is designed to emphasize the use of English in a variety of situations, ranging from the academic to day-to-day conversation. The course will also highlight the four skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

How many hours a day will I attend classes?

Classes will be from 9 a.m. until 12 noon and and then a variety of activities will be planned between 2 and 5 p.m.

Will there be time to take care of important tasks such as apartment hunting?

While classwork will be intensive, time has been built in for students to take care of important tasks outside of the classroom.

How many students will attend the program?

We expect that there will be approximately 35 - 40 students in the program, all students will be assigned to sections.

Who will the other students in the program be?

The others in the program will be like you, students enrolled in GSAS PhD programs who have not had much direct exposure to American culture or the English language and who wish to get an early start on their studies at Harvard. GSAS enrolls students from more than 50 different countries, so we expect the participants to have a wide variety of geographic backgrounds.

Who will teach the course?

Instructors from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning will staff the program. These instructors all have strong academic backgrounds. The curriculum for the course has been developed by the Bok Center and a GSAS advisory committee of faculty and students.

Whom else might I meet during the program?

You will have the opportunity to meet and hear from continuing GSAS students, both international and American, as well as undergraduate students, and Harvard faculty members.

Will this program help me to prepare for the GSAS English language requirement?

The English Language Program is designed to be the foundation for the language training that will prepare students to meet the GSAS requirement.

Why was I chosen for this program?

GSAS asked departments to recommend students whom they believed could most benefit from an early introduction to American culture and English language practice.

Whom can I contact if I have any questions about the program?

You can call Christina Tucker at 617-495-1814 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. She can also be reached via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Housing & Food

Where will I live during the program?

We have made arrangements to house all the program participants in a GSAS residence hall.

How much will housing cost me?

Housing in the GSAS residence hall for the three-week program is free.

Will I have a roommate?

No. All the rooms are singles. There is a shared, single-sex bathroom, a lounge, and a kitchen on each floor.

What if I will be living off-campus or in Harvard-affiliated housing? Can I still live there and attend the program?
Yes. Students are not required to live in the GSAS residence hall during the program. However, GSAS will only pay for accommodations in a GSAS residence hall.

My spouse/family is planning on accompanying me to Harvard. Can they live in a residence hall during the program?

Unfortunately, we are only able to house program participants in a GSAS residence hall.

I intend to live in a GSAS residence hall during the academic year. Will I be able to move into the room I'll be living in during the academic year when I arrive in late July?

Probably not. The program participants will be housed together in Child Hall and it is unlikely that you will have the same room in the academic year that you will live in during the summer.

What about food?

Some lunches will be provided during the program. In addition, you will be given some financial credit on your Harvard identification card that will allow you to purchase meals at a campus restaurant. Evening and weekend meals will not be covered. However, the residence hall where you will be living is equipped with kitchens for your use.

Health Insurance

Will I be covered by health insurance?

Yes. You will receive full coverage under the Harvard University Health Services, as well as by Blue Cross/Blue Shield medical insurance from the day you arrive at Harvard.


Do I need to do anything different about my visa?

No. You should have already received from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid information about financial certification for applying for your visa.


How much will the program cost me?

Tuition for the program is paid for by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Housing in a GSAS residence hall and some meals will also be provided free of charge. Program participants will need to provide for the rest of their meals plus other living expenses such as clothing, telephone calls, and entertainment.


A Word from Past Participants...

"The English Language Program to me was much more than just a language program. It's a cultural immersion, a great opportunity to make new friends (especially with those newcomers to the United States just like me), and above all, an excellent form of entertainment."
Student in Division of Medical Sciences, China.

"When I was trying to decide on joining the program, my biggest concern was its timing. Joining it meant having to come to Cambridge a month earlier than everybody. It sounded bad from back home, but once I was here I knew that it was really worth it."
Student in Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Turkey.

"When we came here in August we were all foreigners willing to integrate and make friends. Meeting every day with colleagues from the ELP provided an opportunity to socialize and make real friends. Later, during the regular term we didn't have enough time to do it and most new relationships were rather superficial, while the old friends from ELP are still in touch!"
Student in Earth and Planetary Sciences, Poland.

"I would never have gotten used to life here, both in Boston and Harvard, so quickly without taking the ELP. In this program you will learn a lot of things such as the language, American customs and culture and how to be a good Teaching Fellow."
Student in Chemistry, China.

"It was obvious, throughout the entire course, that a lot of time, resources and effort were invested in trying to establish something valuable. And it was a big success. It gave me a great opportunity to be here with a "clear mind"; to get to know Cambridge and Harvard, and to make new friends from various disciplines, before the academic year begins."
Student in Middle Eastern Studies, Israel.

"Studying successfully at Harvard is a challenging task. The ELP prepared us in an efficient way, not only by improving our language skills, but more importantly by providing us with information on American society and classroom culture. Furthermore, it was a unique opportunity to learn more about unrelated fields, from Archeology to Zoology."
Student in Division of Medical Sciences, Germany.

"ELP helped me to begin adjusting to a new culture, make friends from different departments, know where and who I can ask for help, and learn living skills in a new environment with a group of excellent students and teachers. It is a wonderful transition!"
Student in Division of Medical Sciences, China.

"Adjusting to a new place is not an easy task, especially in a foreign country. Studying at Harvard is challenging and it takes all your time. However, by the beginning of the fall term, I had already passed through the hardest stage of my adaptation. It was not as much about language as about another culture, even a different academic culture. It was also about making friends and becoming part of a very diverse and busy community. I am grateful to the ELP program for an informal and helpful environment that was created and maintained so that incoming students would organize their life here, feel a flavor of Boston and Cambridge, and learn what to expect from the graduate school and what the school would expect from them."
Student in Anthropology, Russia.

"ELP is a great chance to come to Boston and live in Cambridge in advance and get to know the city, the campus, the students and the life here. It also help shift my brain from vacation mode into school mode. I feel more prepared for the new semester and for graduate school."
Student in Division of Medical Sciences, China

"I took the ELP course in summer 2012 and totally enjoyed it. The course was indeed intensive in terms of workload, but it was a fun time making friends and polishing our English skills. In particular, I very much respected my section leader Mr. Morris, an excellent teacher dedicated to promoting appropriate usage of English. I strongly recommend this course to any incoming graduate student with an intermediate level of English with the firm belief that they will benefit a lot from it just like I did."
Student in Division of Medical Sciences, China