Participants are required to submit biweekly Language Utilization Reports (LURs) as part of their academic programs. To complete these reports, participants are asked to consider how they have engaged with their host country language during the previous two weeks and to approximate the number of hours they have spent in such activities as reading, watching television, and socializing with friends in Chinese. They are also asked to consider some of the recent successes and challenges that they have encountered in communicating with native speakers.
An expert consultant, hired by American Councils and introduced to students before the start of their internships, reviews and comments on LURs to help participants better understand the specific challenges they encountered and to develop new strategies for more successful communication in the future. In this way, each participant receives individualized guidance in his or her language study and useful insights into the cultural differences that may be affecting her or his communication with native speakers. LUR reviewers essentially serve as language coaches, offering participants specific tips and advice for better language learning based on their unique experiences. LURs are also reviewed by designated American Councils staff in Washington, DC to ensure participants are receiving timely responses.
In addition to offering individualized guidance and support, LURs help participants become more self-aware language learners by asking them to pause and consider the ways in which they are engaging with their target language, the results of those efforts, and possible new approaches to help improve language gain. Research strongly indicates that the ability to reflect productively one's individual learning process can significantly aid in language gain.
Participants should note that the LUR is a forum to explore language learning and communication challenges. While these challenges inherently involve cultural issues, the LUR should not be used to report mental health challenges or emotional difficulties, health problems, concerns about program quality, incidents of harassment, or other student-life issues. For these matters, participants are urged to communicate directly with their American Councils internship coordinator, Nanjing Center director, or staff in Washington, DC.