Professional English Language Skills (PELS)

The Professional English Language Skills (PELS) program consists of eight one-hour workshops (offered over eight weeks) with a focus on improving English language and academic skills related to spoken and written English.

Who is PELS for? 

PELS is primarily for UTM students who have English as a Second Language (ESL), though UTM students who need to work on their English language skills are welcome to attend.

PELS can help you learn how to:

  1. develop confidence and comprehension;
  2. use and apply academic language; and
  3. create accurate grammatical structures necessary for success in written tasks.

How to Participate

You can come to one workshop that interests you, attend a few of them, or attend the entire series!

If you wish to earn a Co-curricular Record (CCR) notation on your transcript, you must meet all of the CCR eligibility requirements.

View the PELS workshop schedule and registration information.


Co-Curricular Record (CCR) Eligibility Requirements

If you wish to receive a CCR notation on your university transcript, you must:

  1. attend at least seven of the eight PELS workshops; AND
  2. submit a short written reflection piece upon completion of the PELS workshop series. 

CCR Attendance Information

Please allow up two weeks after the conclusion of the final workshop in the series for your attendance to be updated in the online system. Please contact the CCR office if you have questions about your CCR notation.


Schedule and Workshop Topics

PELS workshops have concluded for the term. The next schedule and registration link will be posted on this page when available.

Workshop 1 - Strategically Learning To Learn 

Not only is it essential for students to learn how to navigate university life, it is also essential that good study habits are developed in order to be a successful learner. This session first examines the different types of learning styles which occur for the international or English Language Learner (ELL). The focus then shifts to a discussion on good note taking strategies which can support the learning styles uncovered. 

Workshop 2 - A ‘how to’ Guide to Academic Referencing 

For many, university is the first time that you are asked to reference and cite when writing an essay. This whole process can be utterly confusing at times. With so many referencing styles and rules for putting citations in the text, it is easy to become quickly overwhelmed. This session runs through two major components of writing: how to rewrite someone else’s ideas (through paraphrasing and summarizing) and then how to cite these appropriately (referencing styles).  You will work in small groups through a referencing task. From start to finish, you will be supported every step of the way. 

Workshop 3 - Critical Thinking: What Professors Really Want 

While the word ‘critical’ might generally be associated with the terms ‘negative’ or ‘bad’, the term ‘critical thinking’ does not necessarily mean that professors want you to have ‘negative thinking’.  When professors say ‘critically analyze the text…’ or they suggest that ‘you are being overly descriptive, and lack critical thinking…’ what are they really talking about? How can you live up to the standards of criticality? In this session, small groups will work together to examine examples of student writing across a range of disciplines. Criticality will be explained and strategies for achieving this elusive concept will be identified. 

Workshop 4 - Writing an Annotated Bibliography 

As a student, there is a need to present information in a way that is logical, clear and cohesive. If English is not your first language, this can be a challenging task. This workshop will discuss the fundamental components of an annotated bibliography - the first step to writing a longer research essay. Through an awareness of the problems, this workshop will aid you in the development of a stronger and more articulate piece of academic writing, preparing you for a larger research project. 

Workshop 5 - Oral Presentation Skills 

If English is not your first language, the thought of speaking publicly about an academic topic can seem a bit daunting. Yet the need to communicate is a key skill you will require as a student and beyond your time at UTM. This workshop will target areas of public speaking that are specifically problematic for non-native speakers of English. It will highlight some tips, tricks and strategies for creating a presentation that is both engaging and appropriate for the audience. 

Workshop 6 - Grammar Boot Camp 

Use this session to get help with all those grammar questions you have circling around in your head. This session intends to determine where your grammar weaknesses are and will offer strategies on how to improve these weaknesses in order to strengthen your written work. 

Workshop 7 - Time Management 

Navigating the path to success at university can be particularly challenging if English isn’t your first language or if you are an international student. There are resources available to help, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin. This session introduces some of the key resources on campus related to Time Management. By participating in a range of fun and engaging activities, participants in this session will determine which strategies might work best as the countdown to Final Exams begins! 

Workshop 8 -  Test Taking Tips 

Exams! Tests! Help!! With Final Exams quickly approaching, feelings of uncertainty may begin to arise. While feelings of anxiety or an increase in stress may be common at this time of year, there is no need for these feelings to become overwhelming. In this session, you will be introduced to a variety of strategies that might help when completing either multiple choice or short answer questions on exams. In addition, we will review techniques to assist with the study process.