Let’s imagine you’ve crossed the first hurdle and committed to the idea of studying abroad and going to university in the UK. The chances are you’ll have a full schedule with lots of things to plan and organise before moving to the UK. However, one of the most important things to do before you travel is to make sure your English language skills are up to scratch for your respective university programme.
What is academic English?
Even if you are already a confident English speaker, academic English is a little different than the everyday lingo you might be used to. Academic English refers to the language you would use to write essays or research papers when you are studying at university. It is more formal and has a slightly different vocabulary than everyday English.
How does an academic English course differ from a standard English language course?
Standard English courses are usually organised around some common areas. You are likely to spend some time studying these topics: grammar, vocabulary, writing and reading, and how to speak and pronounce things correctly. During a lesson you might practise a casual conversation with your classmate, for example how to introduce yourself or order a meal in a restaurant.
In one lesson, you might learn some new phrases, do spelling tests, practise grammar and speak with your classmates. The main aim of these types of courses is to teach you the basics of English so you can use it to interact with others easily. However, an academic English course will be more focused on learning English skills that are specific to the university world and the standards expected of you as an academic.
Although you will cover basic elements of English too, academic English courses are generally more formal and advanced. A writing task in a general English course might consist of writing a short story or a description about yourself, but in an academic course you may have to write a longer essay or a research paper in English.
People usually enrol in an academic English course to get ready for studying at a university level in English. If you already have some ability in using academic English, you might enrol in a course to learn how to structure an essay in English. Some other things you could lean on an academic English course are:
- How to write a formal paper, report or case study
- How to read and critically analyse a text, rather than simply read it and accept the opinion as truth
- New vocabulary that is specific to your course or area of study
- How to debate an idea or argue your own opinion
- How to listen, take notes and summarise ideas for studying purposes
Should you study an academic English course?
Before enrolling on an academic English course, it is important to make sure this method of learning is right for you. For example, sometimes a course will expect you to have a certain level of English language skills prior to beginning and if you are not at the right level, you may struggle to keep up with the course content and your classmates.
Although the best way to check if a course is right for you is to talk to an advisor at the language school and discuss your personal English skills, some things to consider before enrolling in an academic course are:
- Is the course classed as beginner or intermediate level?
- Do you have a basic understanding of English that you will be able to work with?
- Do you have enough time to invest in making the most of the course?
- Does your university course require you to complete an academic English course before you start?
The benefits of studying an academic English course
The most common reason why people choose to study an academic English course is to prepare themselves for success in their studies. Due to the high quality of education, many people choose to leave their home countries and come to the UK to get a degree.
However, if you are not from an English-speaking country or English is not your first language, you could be asked to provide evidence of having a certain level of English. If you can prove you have taken the time to study academic English, it could help you get accepted into a UK university and also help make things easier for you during your time studying.
Additionally, if you get to grips with more complex, academic and formal uses of English, you will also be improving your general English skills at the same time.
7 tips for making the most of your academic English course
- Make a timetable for studying at home and not just for your in-person or online classes.
- Read different types of research papers and essays to get an idea of common ways of writing academically.
- Practise with friends, check over each other’s practise papers and written tasks.
- Ensure your course is the right level for your personal English language level.
- Set yourself small goals based on what you would like to improve, e.g., do you want to improve your academic speaking skills for presentations, or do you want to learn to write more fluently?
- Do your research to find out if the course you are going to do is accredited by a reliable governing body like The British Council.
- Remember – the more time you invest and the more you give to a course the more you will get out of it.
If you are looking for a reputable academic English language course, The Language Gallery offers the perfect programme for those who are looking to improve their English language and academic skills for their future university studies.
The Academic English Course is perfect for students whose first language is not English who are preparing to go to university where English is the main language. The course allows students to practise grammar, sentence and essay structure and academic vocabulary. You will improve your listening skills by practising working with long extracts, improve your reading and speaking skills by researching and speaking about complex topics and giving presentations, and improve your writing skills by writing semi-formal letters, informal e-mails, extended answers to open questions, essays, reports and proposals. You will also learn how to organise paragraphs, reference primary and secondary resources, and how to paraphrase and summarise a text.
If you have any questions about studying an academic English course – get in contact with The Language Gallery and see how we can help.