Baruch College’s Tools for Clear Speech Program Receives $200,000 Grant to Support Non-Native English Speakers
August 21, 2020
Non-native English speakers—who make up about a third of Baruch College’s student body—will soon benefit from a vitally important, new communications course, thanks to a $200,000 grant from Graduate NYC’s College Completion Innovation Fund.
Baruch is among only five community-based organizations and higher education institutions to receive the two-year grant for the course, which will be developed and piloted by the College’s Tools for Clear Speech (TfCS) program. TfCS provides free, professional instruction to improve English pronunciation and intelligibility, and plays an essential role in preparing non-native English speakers for academic and career success. Developed in-house in 2011, the program is set to become a national model emulated by other colleges across the country.
“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to continue such important, innovative work, and to support the incredible non-native English speaking students who are at the heart of Baruch’s mission,” said D.J. Dolack, director of Baruch’s Tools for Clear Speech program. “We are confident that TfCS and projects that support these students will contribute to the College’s nationally recognized success in social mobility but also empower students to more actively and confidently engage in real-world discussions of equality, inclusion, and anti-racism as they embark on their professional careers.”
Tools for Clear Speech: Research-based, Innovative, Holistic
The grant funding will enable the TfCS team to augment the existing curriculum for the mandated business oral-communications course at the Zicklin School of Business by developing sections for non-native English speakers who struggle with clear pronunciation and intelligibility. TfCS will make the supplemental instruction available online, both synchronously and asynchronously, as the vast majority of classes will be distance learning in the fall due to the current Covid-19 environment.
According to Dolack, the communications course will combine research-based elements of language competence with TfCS’s innovative and holistic approach to oral communication fluency. In contrast with other language-supported courses, each non-native English-speaking student will have access to not only in-class instruction, when permissible under pandemic-related protocols, but also to a myriad of supplemental resources and individualized guidance by TfCS staff.
These course sections will serve up to 345 students during the two-year pilot period, and eventually serve between 300-450 students per academic year in the following years.
“This project is the first of its kind to offer such robust, research-backed, and structured support to non-native English speaking students, who may be academically at risk,” explained Dolack. “TfCS research indicates that no other type of support program exists in U.S. public colleges that tests and tracks these approaches at this scale, and the project will serve as a model for public institutions across the country.”
A Collaborative Campus Effort
The grant award was possible through collaboration with the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, Zicklin School of Business, and the offices of Orientation and College Advancement.
“Most of all, it’s a testament to the expertise of the TfCS Speech Consultants who bring such energy and dedication to their work with students each and every day,” Dolack added.
TfCS has been an integral member of Baruch’s student academic support services for ten years. Learn more about the program here.
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