Monthly Archives: October 2014

Managing the reading on your course

A student readingThis week’s blogpost concerns the reading part of your course. A challenge for many international students is managing the amount of reading that is required, particularly on postgraduate courses. Reading lists given to you by the lecturers on your course may include many different kinds of literature in your subject area. As well as books and journal articles (often available to borrow or read through your university or college library), the list may include online journal articles and source material. You may also sometimes still be required to buy one or two texts for your course. The amount of reading on a list may seem daunting but, in most cases, you will not be expected to read everything on the reading list, but to choose selectively according to your interests and course tasks and assignments. To guide you further in selecting what to read, your lecturers may divide reading lists into key (or essential) reading and further (or additional) reading.

Once you have selected what you need to read, it’s a good idea to set aside regular time each week to do the reading, making clear notes that include the source details as you do so. These will be invaluable later when you come to revise for exams or write your course assignments. There are different ways to read according to your purpose. These are sometimes referred to as skimming (to get the main ideas in a text); scanning (for specific information); close reading (of complex ideas and content requiring a thorough understanding). Reading at speed is also a useful reading skill to practise. This skill involves keeping a good level of comprehension at the same time.

For practice activities that will help you learn how to manage the reading on your course, you may find this resource helpful: Reading for your course

To practise two useful reading skills for postgraduate study, look at these resources:
Skim reading for gist
Scanning for specific information

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Getting the most out of lectures

Students in a lectureThis week’s blogpost is in answer to a student who is finding lectures on their course hard to understand.

Listening to and understanding an academic lecture in a second language can be challenging. Making notes on the lecture topic at the same time can make it doubly difficult. If you are a new international student still struggling to get the most out of the lectures on your course, here are some tips which may help you.

If the lecturer uses Powerpoint slides or other visual aids while giving their lecture see if these are available before or after the lecture on a website or course VLE. They will provide a structure for what he or she talks about and can help with your understanding during the lecture or afterwards when you are trying to build up the notes you have made.

If you are worried about your understanding of the main points in the lecture, can’t catch everything the speaker says or wish you could listen to it again, ask the lecturer beforehand if they would mind if you recorded them. Many lecturers will be happy to let you use a small recording device provided that you ask permission beforehand and that it is only for your own private use.

If you found a lecture challenging to understand, afterwards get together with another student who attended the lecture and compare your understanding and any notes you have made. In this way you can each help each other to understand more.

If you feel you need help with listening to lectures, use the Prepare for Success learning resource ‘Listening to lectures‘.

You may find this section of Andy Gillet’s website useful: Listening comprehension and note-taking.

And don’t worry, listening is one of the skills that improves fastest for international students after arriving in the UK.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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