English language skills

(Not relevant to this topic)      Early intervention    University programs
    Tracking students' progress    
    Structuring ideas in English    
    Research skills & ESL students    

University programs to develop English language skills

An increasing number of international students are choosing to study at the University, and when English is their second language (ESL), many may have some difficulty with English comprehension, reading and writing.

Many students from English speaking backgrounds may also have difficulty with English writing skills.

It is crucial that first year students have the English language skills to study at a tertiary level and there are a range of programs and services that will help students to develop these skills.

  • The Learning Centre offers Workshops for English Language and Learning (W.E.L.L) alongside courses for developing academic writing skills, and a Help Yourself resource for common student questions.
  • The Writing Hub is developing programs to help students enhance their academic writing, critical thinking and public speaking skills; and to assist staff in designing assignments that address these skills. In 2012 the Hub will be offering a new unit of study (WRIT1000) that is designed specifically for ESL students.
  • The WriteSite is designed as a series of modules which students work through to develop their academic writing skills. It covers grammar, referencing and structuring your writing.
  • WRiSE is an online resource designed to help students develop and improve their report writing skills in science and engineering.

The coordinator’s role in developing English skills

The importance of early intervention
The progress of International students through your unit of study (UoS) and the overall results in their course are likely to suffer if they do not have a good understanding of English.

You may find that it is not only the ESL students who are struggling with writing and structuring their ideas.

Design early assessment processes to identify students with difficulties into your UoS. See Unit of study design and Assessment tasks.

Keeping track of students’ progress
If you advise a student to attend a Learning Centre course, it is crucial for their studies that they do so. However, not all students will follow your advice and it can be a complex thing to keep track of. You may be able to use a database or similar program to ‘map’ of the progress of students who you have directed to the Learning Centre. The Learning Centre keeps a record of enrolments and attendance in their workshops and students can be tracked on request under certain circumstances.

Developing students’ ability to structure their ideas in another language
The Learning Centre recognises that while their courses can teach students how to improve their writing skills, there are still some difficulties in teaching ESL students how to express ideas in English because of their level of control over the resources of the language.

To a large degree these language skills must developed through intensive English courses, conversation, and diverse reading.

As a coordinator of a UoS you can encourage the development of these skills through various activities such as groupwork where ESL students are paired or grouped with native English speakers. See Active learning for more information.

Developing the research & critical skills of ESL students
ESL students may have particular needs when it comes to developing research and critical thinking skills since these depend on the extent of their grasp of English language structures and protocols.

Again you may be able to help students develop these skills through in-class exercises and group work, and through setting research tasks to teach foundational research skills.
See Active learning and Research skills.