ETS English Language Learning Summer Institute Testimonials

Former interns have great things to say about the ELL Summer Institute:

“I spent two summers as a test development intern at the ETS Summer Institute, and I've had a great experience both times. The work is an interesting blend of creative and technical writing, and the feedback I received from mentors has helped me become a better writer. Not only did I get to interact with an amazing group of professionals from all over the world, but I felt like my international experiences could be put to good use, as they enabled me to develop interesting contexts for test items. For those interested in writing educational materials for a living, ETS is a leader in the field. The training I received during the Summer Institute has been extremely valuable in advancing my career as a freelance educational writer. I feel that I now have a solid grasp of item writing conventions, fairness considerations, and the importance of creating testing materials that fairly and accurately assess the skills of a broad test-taking population.”

–Cristen A.

“Entering the ETS campus on the first day of the summer internship, I had no idea that the month and a half would drastically change and improve the course of my professional life. Going in, I knew ETS meshed well with my interests in education, linguistics, and second-language acquisition, but I did not know that ETS had many opportunities for involvement even after the Summer Internship ended. Throughout the course of the six weeks, I found that the internship appeased the multiple sides of my work style: the Summer Institute enabled me to use my organizational skills and love of logical reasoning and it allowed me the freedom to be creative with my writing. The innovative aspect of the work was well balanced with the structure of writing standardized test material. This duality, along with the interaction and collaboration with my fellow interns and mentors helped me learn so much — about writing, applied statistics, linguistics, and the list could go on and on. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside such brilliant authors and thinkers, and I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on now if it weren’t for ETS and the Summer Institute.”

–Alison S.

“The Summer Institute at ETS really opened my eyes to the practical, real-world applications of linguistics beyond academia. I was able to apply what I have learned in my studies, while learning more about the nature of test development and the kinds of opportunities available to those interested in linguistics and foreign languages. Through the mentoring component of the Institute, I was also able to have meaningful interactions with ETS staff and expand my professional network. I would highly recommend the Institute to both undergraduate and graduate students looking for an intellectually stimulating internship experience.”

–Faye W.

"Working as an ETS Summer Institute Intern was the greatest and most exciting opportunity of my professional life. I am an Applied Linguistics Ph.D. student who worked for the TOEIC Speaking and Writing section, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The internship helped me find new friends, learn new things, and meet many professionals in my field. The SI trainers and mentors were so supportive and friendly. Over the two months of the internship, we worked on many different assignments including writing and reviewing test items. Along the way, I improved my writing skills and learned to see things from different perspectives. In fact, writing test items was such a creative and fun process. Overall, the SI internship provided me with valuable hands-on experience, an overview of the processes involved in preparing the TOEIC test and the opportunity to join a wonderful group of people."

–Mahshad D.

"My experience with the Summer Institute gave me so much more than I expected. I was able to get an inside look at the test development process and be a part of the initial stages of that development. Our mentors went above and beyond to make sure that we understood many aspects of the test development process so that it was a real learning experience and not simply writing items. Although I did not have much experience in test development, I felt as though my opinion was highly valued and the constructive criticism that I received helped me to continuously improve. I am now a more efficient and skilled writer, which is useful in any professional or academic field. Furthermore, as a master's student in Intercultural Communication, I feel as though the internship related to my field much more than I had originally thought. The process of developing tests for populations all over the world ties to many of the topics that I am currently studying."

–Emelie L.

"Apart from many obvious benefits like getting to know incredible people and sharing interesting ideas, being part of ETS Summer Institutes has given me a better understanding of written composition. Working on test items has brought it home to me just how important and challenging it is to strive to present ideas clearly. Even after years of writing practice and teaching university-level classes on writing, even after I had convinced myself that I could write clearly, I realized I could continue learning to identify significant ideas and bring them into greater relief. This is not always possible in the context of academic research, where gummy writing can sometimes be confused for sophistication. I owe it to my helpful, supportive, and very perceptive mentors at ETS that I recognized how much room for improvement there always is. And as they say, recognition is the first step."

–Konrad S.

"Going into the Summer Institute, I thought I was just starting a new internship, something to keep me busy during the summer and to look nice on a résumé. What I found was much more than that. Little did I know that my relationship with ETS would continue extensively after the SI ended. During the Summer Institute, I engaged with a wide network of professionals in a field that most people wouldn't consider as a first career choice. Through my peers, mentors and other colleagues, I learned the fundamentals of test development, touching upon an area of interest unknown to me before. A recent college graduate in search of a career path, I realized through this experience the extent to which foreign-language learning and linguistics intrigue me. Therefore, I decided to continue my relationship with ETS by working as an Outside Item Writer and I now plan on returning next summer. Once you're in, you never want to leave the SI and ETS community."

–Anna C. D.

"I worked as an intern for the TOEIC Listening section as part of the 2012 ETS Summer Institute. Without exception, the staff members who trained and mentored me were a delight to work with. Staff members provided group training sessions on each item type and mentors met with interns individually to give friendly feedback on each set of items we wrote. As a Language and Cognition Ph.D. candidate, I found creating TOEIC test items linguistically stimulating. It is an enjoyable opportunity to be linguistically creative, and it requires careful consideration of the diversity of possible mappings between real-world scenarios and linguistic utterances. All aspects of the Summer Institute were well organized, from the assignment of tasks to the invitations to various social activities. The well structured work-flow organization has helped me better structure aspects of my own academic work. Overall, this internship has given me a unique insight into language learning and assessment, and has broadened my perspective on the applications of theoretical and experimental linguistics."

–Stephen T.

"ETS was an eye-opener for me. I had always had a very positive image of ETS's tests in my mind. When I saw a flyer at a TESOL convention recruiting off-site item writers, I decided to apply. Having left the academic world, I wanted to find opportunities to apply my knowledge and experience in applied linguistics and language education in a meaningful environment. A paid summer internship at ETS was very attractive and virtually upon arrival I realized I had found my niche. ETS is a place where I could use my background, experience, and problem-solving skills to contribute to developing quality materials for products both within the U.S. and internationally. I began the process of being trained to develop tests, in particular two new ETS products that have just been released to the international market. What is particularly important to me is that I am working with a whole community of hard-working, highly educated, and like-minded people."

–Virginia L.

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