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Non-Native Speakers

Questions? Contact:

Sheryl Holt
First-Year Writing Coordinator
(Non-Native Speaker Sections)
321 Nolte

Students with English as their second language may have unique writing needs that can best be supported through dedicated sections of WRIT 1301 for non-native speakers of English. Non-native speakers of English may also be referred to as ESL (English as a Second Language) or EFL (English as a Foreign Language) speakers.

You may choose to take a regular section or a non-native speaker section of WRIT 1301; however, we strongly recommend that you base this decision on your TOEFL, MELAB, IETLS, or MN Battery score.

WRIT 1301 for Non-Native Speakers (NNS)

The NNS sections of WRIT 1301 are only offered during the day and are listed at the top of the schedule (sections 1-11). You will want to register for one of these NNS sections if any of the following applies to you:

  • TOEFL iBT score under 100
  • MELAB score under 85
  • IETLS under 7.5
  • MN Battery under 85

If you are an international student, you may register for any open NNS section without a permission number. If you are a non-native speaker but do not have an international student indicator, contact Sheryl Holt, the coordinator for non-native speakers, for a permission number.

WRIT 1301 for Native Speakers

You may choose to register for a native-speaker (regular) section if your TOEFL iBT score is 100 or above. No special permission is needed to register. However, after classes begin, it may be difficult to switch sections.

Frequently Asked Questions by Non-Native Speakers of English

What are the similarities between native and non-native speaker sections?
Native and non-native speaker sections:
  • have similar criteria and standards with similar types of material
  • have a similar number of assignments
  • help you explore the writing process and discover how to write effectively and clearly for university audiences, including finding and researching a topic, constructing a thesis statement, developing an argument, organizing and writing a draft, revising a draft, documenting sources, editing and proofreading
What are the differences between native and non-native speaker sections?
Non-native speaker sections:
  • are limited to non-native speakers so students can benefit from class discussions and group conferences with other non-native speakers who may be experiencing similar difficulties
  • include discussions and readings that take into consideration differences in cultural frames of reference
  • dedicate more class time discussing the various issues that are unique to second language writers, including grammar issues, cultural differences and American audience expectations in writing
  • have instructors with experience and training in teaching writing to second language writers
  • encourage more contact with the instructor due to slightly smaller class sizes
What will appear on my transcript if I take a non-native speaker section?
All the non-native speaker sections carry the same number of credits as the native speaker sections, and there is no indicator on the transcript showing that the NNS WRIT 1301 section is a special section. Your transcript will look just like that of a native speaker.
If I am a non-native speaker of English, how do I enroll in a first-year writing course (WRIT 1301)?
Once you have passed your English proficiency with an adequate TOEFL score, a MELAB score, or an ACT ENGLISH part score, (see the scores below) you may register for a first-year writing course at the University of Minnesota. You may register for any OPEN section without a permission number if you are an international student. If registration requires a permission number, e-mail Sheryl Holt for further information.

Undergraduates with an English proficiency score below the minimum requirement are required to take a supportive ESL class BEFORE taking WRIT 1301. Students with an overall test score higher than the minimum, but with a writing subscore below the minimum are required to pass ESL 3402 before taking WRIT 1301.

UMN minimum English proficiency for undergraduates:

  • TOEFL ibt 79 (with 21 writing subscore)
  • IELTS 6.5 (with 6.5 writing subscore)
  • MELAB 80 (with 80 writing subscore)
  • MN Battery 80 (with 83 writing subscore)
What should I do if I am currently enrolled in a writing course and need help?
If you need help with a writing assignment you are working on, go to the Center for Writing's Student Writing Support. The Center for Writing, located in 15 Nicholson Hall, employs specially trained tutors to assist non-native speakers. You may use the regular walk-in hours or sign up for a face-to-face appointment or online appointment. Go to
Are there any books or other resources that might help?