Craft Your Academic Voice:

Success for Multilingual Students

What is this class?

Welcome! This course will assist you in developing the oral and written communication skills needed to succeed as a student at Gustavus.

You will practice:

  • academic writing

  • oral presentations

  • communicating with professors

  • classroom discussion

  • active reading

  • group work

You will also learn about the culture of academic and student life at Gustavus. These oral, written, and intercultural skills will come together to help you craft your unique “academic voice,” which complements and enriches (but does not replace) your existing cultural and linguistic identity.

Basic Course Info

Class Meetings:

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3pm-4:20pm, Beck Hall 113


Carly Overfelt, Ph.D.

Office: International Center, 110

Office Hours:

Every Tuesday 10am-12pm, Center for Inclusive Excellence (formerly "Diversity Center")

Make individual appointments outside office hours here.

Required Materials:

  • Printed readings from course site

  • Notebook for in-class note-taking (some class activities will be laptop-free)

  • Materials for in-class essay drafting (laptop, tablet, notebook--whatever student prefers)

Check the Weekly Schedule (top right) often for details on course activities and assignments.

Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will know . . .

  • that “academic English” is a cultural category, which is both useful and limited

  • the basic norms around U.S. academic speech, writing, and social interaction

  • the major values inherent to the U.S. higher educational system, like values around academic honesty

Students will be able to . . .

  • effectively adapt their writing and speech in English to specific academic audiences, for particular purposes and contexts, including discussions, emails, essays, and conversations

  • read academic texts with purpose and comprehension

  • use extra-linguistic strategies, like body language, to enhance communication

  • think critically about academic institutions and cultures

  • articulate what their “academic voice” consists of, and how they will use it

Institutional Learning Outcomes:

This course results in Intellectual Capacities outcomes, as it asks students to demonstrate effective communication across various modes. It also supports Integration of Learning outcomes, as students apply skills from this course in multiple contexts. The course also promotes Intercultural Understanding outcomes; students are asked to see higher education values and practices as cultural, and develop intercultural strategies to help them navigate at Gustavus.

Semester Theme

This class is meant to offer you guided practice in reading, writing, discussion, etc., in a safe space with your multilingual peers. However, it works best when we have something specific to read, write, and talk about.

This semester's theme is: What is the history of international and multilingual students at Gustavus?

  • Who were the immigrants who founded the college? Did they teach classes in English?

  • Who were the first international students at Gustavus, and where were they from?

  • Who was on this land before European settlers colonized it? What languages did they speak?

  • How does Gustavus's multilingual history help us understand the campus culture today?

We will explore this theme through:

Past themes:

How can we improve the web resources for multilingal/international students at Gustavus? (Fall 2018)

How much does the language you speak affect the way you think and see the world? ( Spring-Fall 2019)

Future theme:

How did American Hip Hop become a global "language" for young people all over the world? (2021)

Where does my grade come from?

The following describes the major assignments. More information about the individual assignments can be found on the Major Assignments page.

Here is a link to a spreadsheet that you can save and use to calculate your grade.

Attendance/ Participation 15%

This includes coming to class and meetings, being on time for class and meetings, being prepared, and being an active member of the class.

In addition to class meetings, you will attend 2 one-on-one meetings with me, lasting approximately 30 minutes. During these meetings, you will receive individual feedback and can ask any questions you want. We will schedule the meetings on the first day of class. If you missed the first day, you can schedule your meetings as soon as you wish here.

Personal Essay 10%

This is an informal, personal essay about your linguistic background.

Read and Summarize Exercise 15%

This assignment requires you to choose, read, and summarize a book chapter, article, or essay.

Short Analytical Essay 15%

This assignment requires you to connect ideas between two sources.

Group Project 15%

You wil be assigned one area in which to edit on the Gustavus Adolphus Wikipedia page. As a group you will learn the practices and culture of Wikipedia research and writing. You will need to propose and complete your edit, including appropriate citation. You will be asked to document the process.

Presentation 10%

Your group will be asked to report back to the whole class on a document or object from the college archives.

Lead Discussion 10%

You will be asked to facilitate discussion about a class reading or item from the archives. Depending on how many students register, you might pair up with a classmate for this task.

Final Reflection 10%

This assignment will take place during our very last class meeting. You will be given a few prompts to choose from to reflect on what you learned, what your "academic voice" is like and how will you will strengthen it in the future.

Campus Resources

Contact your Instructor:

Carly Overfelt, Ph.D.

Office: International Center, 110

Office Hours:

Every Tuesday 10am-12pm, Center for Inclusive Excellence (formerly "Diversity Center")

Make individual appointments outside office hours here.

Resources for your Academics:


Gustavus Adolphus College is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs. If you have a documented disability, or you think you may have a disability of any nature (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical) and, as a result, need reasonable academic accommodation to participate in class, take tests or benefit from the College’s services, then you should speak with the Accessibility Resources staff, for a confidential discussion of your needs and appropriate plans. Course requirements cannot be waived, but reasonable accommodations may be provided based on disability documentation and course outcomes. Accommodations cannot be made retroactively; therefore, to maximize your academic success at Gustavus, please contact Accessibility Resources as early as possible. Accessibility Resources ( is located in the Center for Academic Resources and Enhancement. Accessibility Resources Coordinator, Katy Clay, ( or x7227), can provide further information.


“On my honor, I pledge that I have not given, received, or tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid in completing this work.”

Full descriptions of the Academic Honesty Policy and the Honor Code can be found in the Academic Catalog (online at For more information about the Honor Code, contact Dean Julie Bartley ( or x7541).


You can always get help with your research at the library. Reference librarians will help you find information on a topic, develop search strategies for papers and projects, search library catalogs and databases, and provide assistance at every step. Drop-ins and appointments are both welcome. Visit for hours, location, and more information.


While I will make myself available to you for one-on-one writing assistance, you can also get help at any stage of the writing process through the Writing Center. Make an appointment here:

Resources for your Health, Wellness, and Safety:

Mental Wellbeing

The Gustavus community is committed to and cares about all students. Strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol or drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating, and/or lack of motivation may affect a student’s academic performance or reduce a student’s ability to participate in daily activities. If you or someone you know expresses such mental health concerns or experiences a stressful event that can create barriers to learning, Gustavus services are available to assist you. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential health services available on campus at

Title IX: Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Resources

Gustavus Adolphus College recognizes the dignity of all individuals and promotes respect for all people. As such, we are committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination including sexual and gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence like sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking. If you (or someone you know) has experienced or is experiencing these types of behaviors, know that you are not alone. Resources and support are available; you can learn more online at

Please know that if you choose to confide in me I am mandated by the College to report to the Title IX Coordinator, as Gustavus and I want to be sure you are connected with all the support the College can offer. You do not need to respond to outreach from the College if you do not want. You may speak to someone confidentially by contacting the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART/CADA), Chaplains, Counseling Center, or Health Service staff; conversations with these individuals can be kept strictly confidential. SART/CADA can be reached 24 hours a day at 507-933-6868. You can also make a report yourself, including an anonymous report, through the form online at

More links for Overall Wellbeing