Professional English Language Skills (PELS)

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The Professional English Language Skills (PELS) Online Program consists of eight modules that are offered asynchronously online over eight weeks. Each module focuses on improving English language and academic skills and is an opportunity to improve intercultural communication skills by participating in asynchronous discussion boards and synchronous student hours.

Who is PELS for? 

PELS is primarily for UTM students who are learning English as an additional language; however, all UTM students who want to improve their English language skills are welcome to attend.

PELS can help you learn how to:

  • develop confidence and comprehension in written and spoken English
  • make context-based grammar choices
  • improve reading and listening comprehension
  • apply academic language and study skills
  • practice intercultural communication skills

The RGASC offers two versions of PELS: PELS 1.0 and PELS 2.0.

PELS 1.0 provides instruction on foundational English language skills, and PELS 2.0 builds on these skills to provide additional opportunities for students who have already completed PELS 1.0. Both versions are designed for first-year students.

The RGASC does not currently have capacity to design and offer additional levels of PELS for upper year students and/or courses. For further English language development, we encourage students to attend our drop-in Writing Studio or make an appointment with one of our Writing Instructors. 

How to Participate

PELS begins in the third week of the Fall and Winter semesters. Registration for Winter 2024 is now closed.

NOTEIf you have questions or concerns, please email Prof. Sheila:

PELS Module Topics and Student Hours

Every PELS module is asynchronous and will be published on Monday each week at 12:00PM, Eastern Time (ET). Each module must be completed by the following Monday at 11:59AM (ET). Each module is designed to be completed in 60 minutes (including assessments).

The synchronous student hours are strongly recommended but not required. Student hours are an important opportunity to practice spoken English and meet other PELS students. Student hours will feature activities, games, and guest speakers. Student hours will be held using Zoom and offered at a time that is agreed upon by attendees.

Module 1: Strategies for Academic Success 

In addition to welcoming students to PELS, this module helps students identify their academic strengths and adjust to university writing expectations. Module 1 focuses on strategies that support English language learning and academic success. Module 1 topics include note-taking strategies, time-management, and study planning.

Module 2: Reading and Outlining - Preparing to Write 

Writing is a process that involves reading, organizing information, and developing ideas. This module helps students refine and strengthen their reading and outlining skills in preparation to write. Module 2 focuses on critical reading and outlining to clearly comprehend the structure of a written text, and topics include academic vocabulary and academic integrity.

Module 3: Introductions and Conclusions – Guiding Your Audience  

This module helps students understand the purpose and structure of introductions and conclusions. Module 3 explains how to write an introduction that expresses a main point and guides the reader. It also provides strategies for writing conclusions that ask the reader to consider the main point, reasoning, and the overall implication of the written work. Module 3 topics include how to grab the attention of a reader, formulate thesis statements, and make insightful closing statements.

Module 4: Body Paragraphs – Purpose and Structure  

Successful written assignments have coherent, developed, and unified body paragraphs. Module 4 builds on Module 3 (introductions and conclusions) to help students achieve their writing goal using structured body paragraphs. Module 4 addresses topic sentences, organization patterns, and transition words and phrases.

Module 5: Analysis and Argumentation - Make Your Point  

Analyzing what others have said about a topic and expressing your point of view is an important skill in academic writing. In Module 5 students learn how to present analysis and argumentation in written assignments. Module 5 builds on Module 4 (body paragraphs) to focus on expressing a point of view and creating developed, cohesive, and unified written assignments. Module 5 topics include evidence, reasoning, bias, and writing in different disciplines.

Module 6: Learning to Edit, Revise, and Proofread – Submitting Your Best Work  

How have you been doing on your papers?  If the answer is, “I’d like to do better,” this module can help. In Module 6 students learn the basics of revision, editing, and proofreading skills. Module 6 topics include how to incorporate instructor comments and assess your written work according to the assignment criteria and rubric. Writing is a process, so learn how to improve yours step-by-step!

Module 7: Cohesion and Flow - Making Sense  

Making sense from start to finish requires sentences and paragraphs that connect and develop ideas.  Module 7 draws on the skills and strategies discussed in previous modules to focus on improving the cohesion and flow of an essay. Module 7 topics include vivid language, discipline specific writing strategies, and how to distinguish sources from your own ideas.

Module 8: Looking Ahead – Academic Strategies and Supports 

Navigating your path to success at university can be challenging, and English language learners may encounter additional concerns as they adapt to new academic contexts. There are resources that can help, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin. Module 8 presents resources at UTM that can help you prepare for final assessments and access academic advising. By participating in a range of fun and engaging activities, students in this session will consider which strategies might work best as the countdown to final papers, exams, and next semester begins!

Co-Curricular Record (CCR) Eligibility Requirements

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

  1. complete at least seven of the eight PELS modules AND
  2. submit a short written reflection by the due date at the end of the program

CCR Attendance Information

Please allow three weeks after the conclusion of the final PELS program module for your attendance to be updated in the online system.

Please contact the CCR office if you have questions about your CCR notation.

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

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