Angela Lehman, Virginia Commonwealth University

Being prepared for university matriculation requires more than linguistic knowledge for non-citizen ESL speakers. Because higher-ed culture in the U.S. is markedly different than that of many students’ home countries, the preparation they received in secondary schools doesn’t always align with expectations of U.S. universities. If we want our IEP students to advance successfully through a degree program, we need to prepare them for unwritten university codes—one of which places a high value on understanding the syllabus, which itself is coded with references to expectations, standards, and requirements that may be unfamiliar.

You'll gain practical ideas for using syllabi from general ed university courses to give your upper-level IEP students a preview of U.S. higher education culture and expectations while practicing reading, inference-making, and writing.

This two-day lesson plan involves both small-group and individual work. Although you're welcome to use the tools I demonstrate here, I encourage you to find current syllabi from your own institutions and to freely adapt the questions and activities to meet your needs.

Although the lesson plan was developed for IEP students, it can be adapted for high school students where appropriate.