English as a Second Language in STEM Spaces of Higher Education

deadline for submissions: 
September 20, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Karen C. Chou, Daniil M. Ozernyi, Northwestern University
contact email: 

Dear colleagues,

We invite submissions to the session “English as a Second Language in STEM Spaces of Higher Education” at NeMLA 2024. Please, see a more detailed description below and links to the submission portal at the bottom of the message.

Description of the CfP. English is a second (3rd, 4th, &c.) language to a lot of STEM students in higher education. These students have markedly different experience navigating that required writing/speaking proficiency components. However, most institutional policies regarding writing/speaking proficiency for both undergraduate and graduate students (both as students themselves and in their TA positions) do not factor bilingualism/ESL and are oriented solely at Anglophone monolinguals. In this session, we seek to draw attention to experiences with English of several stakeholder groups in higher education; pointing out that ESL speakers are under-investigated and often treated unfairly (Lacosse et al. 2020 in ScienceAdvances). We invite abstracts on topics that consider one of the following in scholarly light.

(1) for undergraduate or graduate students:

(1.1) how are experiences of STEM-ESL students distinct from English monolinguals?

(1.2) what are the differences in experiences across STEM-ESL students from different sociocultural backgrounds/ different first languages?

(1.3) how can STEM or writing/speaking proficiency curriculum be adjusted for bilinguals/ESL students surpassing ESL or “academic writing” programs to shift the foci away from anglophone-monolinguals?

(2) for graduate TAs:

(2.1) what are different approaches to English proficiency requirements for TAs in STEM fields – and pros and cons for each?

(2.2) what are the implications for the classroom from having an ESL vs. anglophone-monolingual TA?

That being said, proposals on other stakeholders who we omitted above (e.g., pre-tenure scholars, publishing, &c.) are also welcome. In considering proposals, we hope to invite contributions representative of as many as possible groups from above. We particularly welcome proposals from contributors outside the US who experience similar issues with language other than English as primary in a given country/university/homogenous speech-community.


Submission link: https://cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/20334

Submission deadline: September 20, 2023 (please consider submitting early)

Decision notification date: end of September 2023

Conference dates: March 7-10, 2024 in Boston, MA at Sheraton Boston Hotel


We look forward to your submissions!



Karen C. Chou, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, F.SEI, ENV SP

Clinical Professor Emerita,

  Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Faculty Chair

  Residential College of Science & Engineering at Slivka Hall

2145 Sheridan Road, Room A218

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL  60208

e-mail:  karen-chou@northwestern.edu


Daniil M. Ozernyi

Department of Linguistics, Northwestern University