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Why take an academic English course?

The recent #FeesMustFall protests have shown the power that university students have in the tertiary education sector. It is clear that students are fed up with paying registration and course fees which exclude them financially. Once students make it into tertiary study, it is critical to focus on assisting them to complete their degrees. Using academic English well is a key advantage for all university students, so what kind of academic English support is available to students?

Present situation

From the latest research conducted at the University of Johannesburg, only 40% of students who start university, complete their first year. A further 20% drop out before completing their undergraduate degrees. This means that 60% of students who make it to university don’t qualify with their chosen degrees. Of course, there are other factors which influence this, but many students say that their ability to understand and produce the required level of English is a major concern. So how can students improve their English?

Academic English help

There are various support structures at universities which are intended to help students who have academic difficulties. These include writing centres and tutors. While these can assist students to improve their overall academic skills, often these tutors are not qualified professionals in the field of language teaching.

Wits Language School teachers are all specifically skilled in teaching English as a second language through a communicative methodology approach. At the English for Academic Development and Testing unit of the Wits Language School, we offer undergraduate and postgraduate English courses which are specifically designed to help second language English students.

Our courses are tailored to students needs and include face to face time as well as online learning components. Face to face classroom time is approximately around 40 hours. Classes are small, with fewer than 20 students which allows for individual attention as well as creating the opportunity for students to get to know one another at the university. Students are required to work on their own as well as part of a group, using online, as well as traditional resources.

Undergraduate English course

Our undergraduate English course is called English for University Success. Classes run from 16:00 to 18:00, twice a week. There are two parts of the course: the first specialises in Speaking and Listening skills on a Monday and a Wednesday. It focuses on developing the skills students need to understand lectures and tutorials, as well as effective note-taking, and assists them to present their work in front of academic audiences. Part two runs on a Tuesday and a Thursday and specialises in Reading and Writing skills. These include research, referencing, essay planning and critical thinking. Students must have internet access in order to do the course.  Each part costs R4 500.

Postgraduate English course

Our postgraduate course runs on Mondays and Wednesdays from 15:30 to 18:00. The course focuses on English complex grammar and writing skills with a specific focus on research. For the end of course assessment, students are required to present their proposed research to the rest of the class. Students are expected to attend 80% of the classes and achieve at least 60% on the final assessment in order to qualify for a Certificate of Competence. Students receive a personalised report on their course performance. The course fee is R5 600.

If you are interested in any of the above courses, please contact Wits Language School on 011 717 4208.