Communication Skills Institute for International Students

Sessions A & C

Communication Skills Institute for International Students:

  • Become a successful speaker
  • Learn to speak American-style English by viewing Hollywood movies
  • Communicate effortlessly and comfortably in private, public, and academic situations
  • Use films to increase cross-cultural awareness

Dear Student,

Summer approaches and we in the Communication Department of UCLA are preparing to host visiting students from around the globe.  The Communication Skills Institute for International Students (CSIIS)--formerly known as The Institute in Communication Skills for International Students--is celebrating its tenth year. Once again we will be offering International Students a holistic program in acquiring English language skills and orientation to American culture.

Comprised of two courses, COMM1A (Public Speaking for Nonnative Speakers) and COMM1B (Learning American English and Culture from Movies), CSIIS is designed to focus the educational potential of the Communication Department, UCLA, and the cultural venues of Los Angeles into a comprehensive learning environment. CSIIS strives to transform the daunting challenge of immersing oneself in a foreign language (American-style English) and a foreign cultural environment (American popular culture) into a rich, integrated, and enjoyable educational experience.

Each year, approximately 400 students from over 20 countries convene to participate in our two summer sessions (each session six weeks in duration). Due to the cultural diversity of our participating students, a side benefit of our program has evolved. Not only are our students exposed to the intricacies of US language and culture through their guided coursework and encounters with American students on campus; they also meet and interact with a diverse group of students from a wealth of other countries and cultures in our COMM1A and COMM1B classrooms. These classroom connections with fellow International Students often lead to the formation of long term friendships.

Thus while fulfilling its purpose of offering a holistic exposure to the nuances of America, CSIIS also provides an exposure to non-American students that creates an educational experience that is truly international in its scope and character. In America we have the popular phrase--it takes a village. We consider our COMM1A and COMM1B classrooms a global village. Our students come together to learn about America, Americans, and each other. So come to UCLA and be a Bruin for the summer. You will have powerful experiences and meet wonderful friends that will stay with you for a lifetime!

(Note: Enrolling in CSIIS automatically provides you the total 8 units required to fulfill the requirement of your US Student Visa.)

To Register for the Communication Skills Institute for International Students, simply enroll in both COMM1A and COMM1B and you will be automatically enrolled in CSIIS.


Sylvia Merschel

Dee Bridgewater

Dee Bridgewater is the co-director of the Communication Skills Institute for International Students. He has been a lecturer in UCLA's Communication Department for thirty years, where he has developed innovative classes, aiding nonnative speakers, teaching assistants, and diverse groups of students to speak more effectively in challenging and foreign situations. A licensed psychologist in private practice for the past twenty five years, he has advanced training in script analysis and the creative process. He has also aided a notable group of actors, writers, and directors in creating award-winning television and movie projects.

Sylvia Merschel is the co-director of the Communication Skills Institute for International Students. She has been the Summer Sessions lecturer for Communication 1A, Public Speaking for Nonnative Speakers, for over twenty years. Previously, she spent more than a decade with the Los Angeles Unified School District, teaching bilingual and ESL classes, as well as fostering community and parental involvement. Her published works are mainly in the field of natural history. Her pioneering work, with Dr. Donald Perry, in the canopy of the tropical rainforest, received the Rolex Award for Enterprise and resulted in a children's book, Journey Into a Hollow Tree, as well as internationally distributed articles, including ones in Smithsonian and the Encyclopaedia Britannica's Yearbook of Science and the Future.