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Warwick e-learning tools make interpreting lectures EASE-y

globalpad_200x68.jpg26 June 2013

E-learning resources have been launched by the University of Warwick to help students who speak English as a second language understand lectures and engage effectively in seminars.

Two online courses developed at the University’s Centre for Applied Linguistics are now available for purchase. The courses will equip students studying in English at any higher or further education institution with the skills to help them get the most out of their lectures and seminars.

Called EASE (Essential Academic Skills in English), the courses are part of the Centre’s online initiative, GlobalPAD - Professional and Academic Development. GlobalPAD was set up with help from Warwick Ventures, the University’s commercialisation company.

The first of the new online courses, Listening to Lectures, highlights different signposting cues used by lecturers, such as outlining lecture content, or summarising what has been learnt so far. It also offers assistance with interpreting the delivery style of the lecturer and making decisions about how to skilfully sift information to take useful lecture notes.

The second course, Seminar Skills, deals with the skills necessary to participate in seminar discussions. Students get to see authentic university seminars in progress and their attention is drawn to the dynamics that typically characterise seminars. They engage in tasks which aim to increase their skills in, and awareness of, effective seminar participation, such as engaging in debate on various issues with the lecturer and with other seminar participants.

Neil Murray, Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics, explains: “What is distinctive about these courses is that the material in them is authentic. It’s derived from real lectures, rather than scripted scenarios, so students gain a genuine feel for different styles of lecture, and the cues they need to look out for”.

“Students who are not fluent in English face a difficult challenge in understanding lecture material at the same time as determining what is most relevant, taking structured notes, and keeping up with the lecturer. Many also struggle to participate effectively in university seminars, in part because they don’t always have the language to do so but also because they are unfamiliar with expectations: how to interrupt, disagree with peers and so on. Our EASE courses help provide them with the skills and confidence to meet this challenge and so get the most out of their time at college or university.”

The materials are aimed at students embarking on higher or further education courses and are particularly relevant to overseas students who are not yet familiar with the tertiary education environment.

The courses and sample material are available at