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U.S. English Resources

Whatever your level of spoken English, keep in mind that it's essential to speak English and listen to English in order to improve.  You may do so either by engaging in activities specifically geared to improve your English (direct learning), or by participating in English in other activities you enjoy (indirect learning).

Direct Learning Activities, including classes


On-Campus English Conversation Clubs

English Conversation Club 
The English Conversation Club (ECC) holds lunch meetings that provide an informal environment where non-Native English speakers can feel comfortable practicing speaking English with others. Facilitators provide conversation starters and answer participants’ questions about meaning and everyday usage of English words/phrases/slang and questions about U.S. culture. They have potluck celebrations a couple of times per year to celebrate holidays or special events. Feel free to bring your lunch and a friend. If you would like to be added to the ECC listserv (ECC-BLDG35@LIST.NIH.GOV) to receive updates, please email Sandy Gomez ( or Jennifer Mehren ( for more information.


Outside Classes

Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) External Link Language Classes
Montgomery County External Link, free programs
Northern Virginia External Link, free programs and programs for a fee

Mango Languages

Thank you to those who used the Mango Languages platform. Because of low levels of participation, we are unable to justify funding it again at this point. However, you can use it (or similar resources) for free at several public libraries. If you are not familiar with the public library system, please know that it is free to join public libraries, to borrow materials, and to use their online resources. Check with your local library to find out how to join.

Baltimore County (look under "literature and languages"): External Link
DC Public Library: External Link
Durham County: External Link
Fairfax County: External Link
Frederick County: External Link
Montgomery County:
North Valley Public Library (Montana-about 20 minutes from RML and the Bitterroot library confirms that you may go to NVPL and get a library card): External Link

Accent Reduction

Non-native speakers who feel comfortable in conversation but feel that they may need to improve their accents should contact professionals who specialize in accent reduction. Prices vary, so please speak with appropriate professionals about cost. The American Speech-Language-Hearing association can help in locating an accent-reduction professional External Link

Religious Organizations

Many religious organizations offer English instruction, often taught by volunteers. You should feel free to check with your local religious organizations, even if you are not a practicing member of that religion. They may have tutors who can work with you.

OITE "Improving Spoken English" Videocast

This seminar highlights tips you can use to help your U.S. colleagues understand you more easily.

There's an App for That!

Three apps to help you work on  your English on are reviewed in a New York Times audio article entitled "English Grammar Aids for Both Native Speakers and Students". External Link

Helpful Web Sites

Phonetics with animation/video/description of how to make sounds External Link

Idioms External Link (some are British External Link, so check usage with someone from the U.S.)

Book Store

Tempo Book Distributors External Link: A language resources book store with a helpful staff

Grammar and Punctuation Resources

Eggenschwiler, J., Biggs, E.D., and Reinhardt, C.L.W. (2011) CliffsNotes Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style Quick Review, 3rd Edition

Strunk, W., Jr. and White, E.B. (1999) The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition [or the 2008 50th Anniversary Edition]

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
        Exercises External Link
        Resources External Link

Grammar Tips from the OITE

Indirect Learning Opportunities

While formal learning is important, it is equally important to find activities you enjoy doing and do them in English. In this way, you will have the opportunity to improve your English, learn about culture, and build friends and a support network.


Finding activities you enjoy doing-and doing them in English-will help you meet your language goals more quickly. One trainee told us that she never felt really confident with English until she'd been coaching her daughter's basketball team for a year. Whether coaching, volunteering to tutor, taking a cooking class, doing community service, or joining a sports team of your own, you're likely to make friends and enjoy yourself while doing something you value...and while improving your English.

OITE-TalkShare Listserv

The OITE-TalkShare Listserv aims to connect non-native English speakers with people who will practice English (and perhaps the non-native speaker's other language(s)) with him or her. For example, a native English speaking postdoctoral fellow who is learning French may wish to meet with a French-speaking grad student; they could go to a cafeteria or coffee shop and speak 30 minutes in French and 30 minutes in English. Volunteers (trainees or NIH staff) are also welcome to donate time to help trainees practice English. Trainees and are welcome to post a request for someone to practice with him or her. Find NIH listservs.

The NIH Recreation & Welfare Association External Link

This NIH organization sponsors a number of activities you might enjoy. Connect with each organization's leadership to learn more.

NIH Toastmasters

NIH Toastmasters External Link is a free club that meets weekly on the Bethesda campus. It aims to help participants (both native- and non-native English speakers) to improve their public speaking, leadership, communication, and understanding of organizational dynamics.

National Public Radio

National Public Radio (specifically WAMU, the American University station External Link, which has a strong signal in this area) can be found at 88.5FM on the radio or online.  Programming ranges from news to general interest stories. One popular program is "Science Friday," which airs on Friday afternoons at 2pm. Online you can also listen to programs in the archives. Transcripts are available to help you check your comprehension.  NOTE: other NPR stations broadcast in DC and other cities.  Some play classical music rather than news and general interest programming.

Television News

Recommended sources for news include BBC World News and Al Jazeera which both feature international news. Watching the news for 15 minutes a day can help improve your comprehension.


The DC Metro area is a wonderful source of cultural opportunities in English. Many museums offer free tours of their facilities. Choose to do the tour in English! Check each museum's Web site for information. Some places to start are the Smithsonian Institution External Link and the National Gallery of Art.

Additional Ideas

**Please note: This list is for informational purposes only. Except for OITE offerings, the OITE has not reviewed these classes and cannot endorse any particular class. You will need to do additional research to determine the appropriateness of a class or activity.

English Communication for Visiting Scientists

 An intensive two-day course to help non-native English speakers communicate more easily with their colleagues in the U.S.


 A listserv to assist you in finding partners who will practice English with you.