English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center

What is Speak UP?

Speak UP is an advanced English speaking group designed for international undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and fellows.  Speak UP aims to provide a supportive space in which to discuss and practice ‘real-life’ academic communication at Penn State.

Each week, the Speak UP group focuses on a particular situation/setting in university life where language plays a central role.  Sessions are guided by experienced EPPIC instructors who offer examples of what people ‘do’ with language in each setting, and provide commonly used phrases and communication strategies for each.  Participants practice with new knowledge and build social relationships with international and American peers through group discussion, role-plays, and games. 

When and where does Speak UP meet?

Update: Speak UP will meet only on-line during Fall 2020.  Registered participants will receive an email with more details about how to connect to the group meeting on-line.

Speak UP meets Tuesday evenings at 3:15 pm, and Friday at 12:15 pm, both via Zoom. The first hour includes a brief lesson, and group discussion. The second hour is optional, focusing on activities and language practice.  If your schedule permits, we encourage you to stay for the second hour. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all ten sessions of Speak UP during the semester for continuity, relationship building, and improvement in communication skills.

Registration for Speak UP sessions is available here.

What topics are covered in Speak UP?

In Fall 2020, weekly sessions will focus on the following: 


September 8: How Americans Talk: Pronunciation in the U.S.

September 11: What Americans Say: Slang and Idioms in the U.S

September 15: How Americans Chat: Small Talk in the U.S

September 18: Talking with Americans: Successful Conversations in the U.S.

September 22: Talking with Friends: Socializing at a Bar or Restaurant

September 25: Communicating with Peers and Professors: Shifting between Informal and Formal Talk in the U.S.

September 29: Participating in Class & Group Discussions


October 2: Giving Presentations in an Academic Context

October 6: Preparing for the U.S. Job Market

October 9: Networking: Breaking the Ice at a Professional Event