Janet L. Kayfetz

I am an Applied Linguist, and I have taught academic writing and communication skills for over 25 years. The way I approach my work comes from an understanding of what we know about language, discourse, learning, and teaching. Whether we are addressing written or spoken discourse, I respect an individual’s unique personality and style and consider all of the dynamic variables that have an impact on communicative effect including audience, the content, the specific context where the language will be used, and the goals of the writing or the presentation.

There is a vital link between our day-to-day work and the importance and value of highly developed speaking and writing abilities. Whether we conduct research, manage a project, teach, mentor junior colleagues, or lead a lab, office, or business, there are significant dimensions in the development of a vibrant career that rely on the quality of communication skills. We might even say that excellent language skills are not just fundamental requirements for professional success, but also provide an anchor and balance for all of our daily interactions, both at work and with family and friends.

Just about ten years ago I designed Academic Writing and Great Presentations courses that I teach to graduate students in Computer Science and Engineering to help them learn how to develop well-argued and persuasive science texts and presentations. More recently, I teach graduate students in Mechanical Engineering, Materials, and Environmental Science and Management. In all of these areas, I collaborate with faculty members, researchers, and students to develop a culture where scientific, technical, and humanistic accomplishments are supported by excellent communication skills.

I also teach writing, communication, pronunciation, and presentations skills to postdoctoral scholars and researchers. Some of the places where I work with postdocs include the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at New York University School of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Albert Einstein Medical School, and New York Medical College.


Columbia University
Academic Writing Class

Before joining the Computer Science Department at UCSB in 2003, I taught courses in general and applied linguistics, language acquisition, language pedagogy, and ESL in the Linguistics Department at UCSB (1982-2003), and served as Director of the ESL Program (1983-89). I have extensive experience in the training of language teachers, and have designed ESL testing and curricula at the pre-university and university levels, including a specialized workshop required for non-native English speaking Graduate Teaching Assistants at UCSB. During 1980-81, I was a Senior Scholar at the Graduate School of the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, where I worked with UCLA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to establish testing and course design for the inauguration of the Graduate School English Language Center for Academy scientists. I authored two textbooks on advanced speaking and presentation strategies that were inspired by my work in China and with ESL students at UCSB.

In addition to my teaching, I consult on the topics of communicative competence, spoken and written discourse, and pedagogy, and am privileged to have worked with such groups as UCSB’s Materials Department ConvEne IGERT (Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship), the Office of Instructional Consultation at UCSB, Walgreen Company Clinical Outcomes and Analytics, and Arnett Gunson Facial Reconstruction in Santa Barbara.

Photos: Claire M. Phillips