Language Coaching

The WLS provides guidance and support for language learning to all Duke Kunshan students, staff, and faculty. Our coaches can help learners develop plans to improve their language skills; guide them on setting short-term and long-term goals; provide feedback on their learning strategies and language use; recommend resources for independent learning; and help them practice specific language skills, such as reading, listening, pronunciation, and so forth. 

We provide coaching services for Mandarin Chinese, English, and several additional languages. When you make an appointment for language coaching, you will be able to select the language you are learning. If the language you want coaching in is not listed, you may select “Other Languages.” You will then be able to make an appointment with a coach who may not have expertise in the specific language you are learning, but the coach will be happy to provide general guidance on your learning plan, goals, and strategies. 

Note for Fall 2022

We are pleased to be able to offer both face-to-face and online coaching in writing and language learning during the Spring Semester. Leaners can make appointments in our scheduling system. Please see “How to make an appointment” section below for detailed instructions. 

How to prepare for your language coaching session

First-time users of the WLS for language learning (not English writing) should ideally have an initial consultation with the WLS Coordinator before signing up for a session. Coaching sessions work best when you have specific goals that you are working towards. If you don’t have goals, we can help you set some.

How to make an appointment

To make an appointment, please visit our online scheduling system.

Step 1: Register your account and log in

  • Log into the system with your NetID and password. If you do not have a NetID, please contact us at DKU_WLS@dukekunshan.edu.cn;
  • If you haven’t registered an account with the WLS yet, you will need to fill out the registration form to complete registration.

Step 2: Register your account and log in

  • Select “Writing and Language Studio (Fall 2022)” when prompted to choose a schedule.
  • Select coach type from the box at the top of the page:

    • Time blocks in different colors show the availability of our coaches: White blocks are available time slots, blue blocks are booked time slots, and black blocks are unavailable time slots. Each block represents 15 minutes. Appointments can only start at :00 and :30.
    • Click on a white time slot for the time at which you want to meet with a particular coach – You can view that coach’s bio in the appointment window.
  • Fill in the appointment form completely, and click the “Create Appointment” button at the bottom of the form.
  • You may make changes to your appointment by clicking on your booked time slot and editing your appointment form.

Attending your appointment

  • Please arrive at your appointment on time.
  • Online coaching appointments are conducted via Zoom.
    • Log back into the system a few minutes before the start of your appointment to make sure your Zoom app is updated and you have a stable connection with working audio and video.
    • Open your appointment (which will show as an orange block on the schedule) and find your coach’s Zoom ID in their bio near the top of the appointment window. Use this Zoom ID to join a meeting on Zoom. (If it’s a group appointment, be sure to send the Zoom ID to the other one or two students who will join the meeting.) The coach will admit you from the Zoom waiting room at your appointment start time. 
    • You or your coach may share screens as needed during your Zoom coaching session.
    • If you are more than 10 minutes late, your appointment will be marked as missed.

Zoom Tips and Troubleshooting

  • Zoom works best with your VPN turned off.
  • If your audio or video don’t work once you have entered the Zoom room, try exiting and joining it again.
  • If you still have trouble, or any other technical issues occur during the appointment, please monitor the chat in Zoom (or your email if you can’t log into Zoom) for instructions from the coach.

How to cancel your appointment

  • You can cancel your appointment at least 5 hours in advance: Click on your appointment time, scroll down to the bottom of the appointment form, and click the red “CANCEL APPOINTMENT” button.
  • If you have an emergency and need to cancel an appointment that is less than 5 hours away, please email BOTH your coach AND the WLS (DKU_WLS@dukekunshan.edu.cn) briefly explaining why you need to cancel the appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I sign up for a coaching session?

There are two ways to sign up for a coaching session: (1) through our online scheduling system, or (2) in person at the WLS Office in CC 1068.

What kinds of sessions can I sign up for?

You can sign up for writing coaching or for language coaching in Mandarin Chinese, English, or another language listed in the online scheduling system. Language coaching sessions could focus on, for example, speaking and listening, presentation skills, pronunciation, reading, vocabulary, and/or grammar. For languages that are not listed in the system, you are welcome to sign up for an “Other Languages” coaching session, in which the coach can provide general guidance on learning plans, goals, and strategies for a language that they may not have expertise in.

How long are the coaching sessions?

You may sign up for a 30-minute or a 60-minute coaching session. All coaching sessions include time at the end of the session to review and summarize the work that was done. For example, a 30-minute session includes a maximum of 25 minutes for coaching, with 5 minutes for the coach to complete a session summary with the learner.

When can I sign up for appointments?

Appointments must be made at least 5 hours before the start time. You can make appointments up to 14 days in advance.

How often can I have coaching sessions?

At this time, you may sign up for one coaching session per day.

What should I prepare before my coaching session?

Our coaching sessions are more productive when you have specific goals that you are working towards. If you haven’t set any goals, we can help you do so. The appointment form will also guide you towards identifying one or more goals for your session. For writing coaching sessions, we are happy to help you wherever you are in your writing process. First-time users of the WLS for language coaching (not English writing) should ideally have an initial consultation with the WLS Coordinator before signing up for a session.

Can I meet with a coach if I don't have an appointment ?

If you weren’t able to make an appointment in advance but would still like to meet with a coach, you may be able to have a walk-in session, depending on coach availability. Please email the WLS (DKU_WLS@dukekunshan.edu.cn) or visit the WLS Coordinator, Jianxuan Zhang, in CC 1068. She will direct you to an available coach. Note: Walk-in coaching is not available online.

Can I cancel my appointment?

Please don’t make an appointment unless you intend to keep it. But if you must cancel, please note that appointments must be cancelled at least 5 hours in advance (except in the case of emergencies) to open the time slot to others.

  • To cancel your appointment, log in to the WLS schedule, click on your appointment time, and scroll down to the bottom of the appointment form and click the red “CANCEL APPOINTMENT” button.
  • If you have an emergency or sudden illness and need to cancel an appointment that is less than 5 hours away, you need to email BOTH your coach AND the WLS (DKU_WLS@dukekunshan.edu.cn) briefly explaining why you need to cancel the appointment.

Can I get help on a class assignment in a coaching session?

If you have questions about or need help understanding a class assignment, the first thing you should do is talk to your professor. If you need additional help on a class assignment, you may bring the assignment to a coaching session. Coaches will provide you guidance on the skills you need to complete the assignment, or feedback on presentations, but they will not complete,  edit, check, or proofread assignments for you. If you would like a coach to help you with a writing assignment, please schedule an appointment at least four hours before the assignment is due so that you have enough time to work on the writing after the coaching session; it’s best to schedule your writing appointment at least a day before the writing assignment is due.

If my language or writing course professor is a WLS coach, can I make a WLS appointment with them for help on an assignment from their course?

No. For course-related questions or help with assignments from them, go to their office hour. But you may make WLS appointments with them for help with assignments from other courses or for other language learning or writing coaching. (And you may always make WLS appointments with other coaches!)

Can the writing coaches proofread/edit my essay?

We are happy to answer specific questions about an essay that you are working on. However, we do not provide editing or proofreading services. Our goal is to help you develop the skills you need to examine and improve your own writing.

I need to show my professor that I attended a coaching session. What can I do?

At the end of your coaching session, your coach will work with you to write a brief summary of your session. This summary will be emailed to you, and you may share it with your professor if you want to.

If I meet with a WLS writing coach, will I get an A on my paper?

WLS coaches can help you develop your writing skills, but they cannot guarantee your grades on writing assignments. Because DKU courses and writing assignments have a wide range of learning objectives, it is not possible for writing coaches to assess your writing assignments or give any indication of what grade you might receive. If you want to know more about what the expectations are for A-level work on any of your assignments, talk to your course professor.

Can the WLS help me change a grade I received on a writing assignment?

Courses at DKU and writing assignments have a wide range of learning objectives. Your course professors are the ones who will determine how they assess your writing assignments and give you grades. Just as one professor can’t change grades for a course they are not teaching, WLS coaches also can’t grade your papers. Our coaches will not comment on grades you receive on your papers. We can help you determine how to respond to feedback you receive on your writing, but if you need help interpreting the feedback you receive from a professor on an assignment, or if you have a question about a grade you have received, you need to talk to your course professor as they are the one who has determined the learning objectives and expectations for their assignments.

What should I do if my WLS account is deactivated?

According to the WLS policy, if it’s your first time requesting account reactivation, you need to come to CC 1068 and find the WLS coordinator (DKU_WLS@dukekunshan.edu.cn)  to explain the reasons for no-shows; if it’s a second time, you need to schedule a meeting with Prof. Kristin Hiller (kristin.hiller@dukekunshan.edu.cn), the director of the WLS, to discuss reactivation of your account.

What if I successfully made an appoitment within 5 hours before the start time on the system? Can I attend the appointment in that case?

Unfortunately, you cannot attend the appointment because it violates WLS policies, and your appointment will be canceled accordingly.

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