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Study Skills for Speakers of English as a Second Language1

By Marilyn Lewis and Hayo Reinders

Palgrave Macmillan 2003
1-4039-0026-4 Reviewed by Andrea Mattos

Have you ever thought of studying abroad? Have you ever tried to go studying
abroad and, for any reason whatsoever, did not find your way? Have you been studying
abroad and facing language and cultural problems that you hadn’t foreseen? If you
answered “yes” to at least one of these questions, then Study Skills for Speakers of English
as a Second Language is the book for you. It will help you in several ways, from the time
you decide to go to an English-speaking country to when you are already enrolled in a
University and are ready to start making friends and enjoying the new country’s life.
The authors, Marilyn Lewis and Hayo Reinders, are experienced teachers who have
also been students in foreign countries. The book gives general information about English-
speaking universities but, throughout the text, readers will find suggestions of books and
web sites where they can look for more specific information about whatever topic they are
interested in.
The book is divided in three parts: Getting Organized, Your University Studies and
University Life. The first part will help prospective students choose the university they want
to go to, try a scholarship to help them with the expenses of living and studying abroad,
plan their undergraduate and postgraduate studies, enroll in the university they have chosen
and assess and improve their command of the English language.
Part II concentrates on the university studies. The authors deal with several different
topics, such as understanding lectures in English, dealing with group work, facing reading
tasks, presenting assignments and taking examinations and, finally, writing a thesis. One of
the highlights of this second part is the section on plagiarism, where the authors present and
discuss this serious, modern-day problem, while also showing ways of avoiding it.
Part III deals with University Life outside the classroom, such as talking to other
students and contacting the university staff, dealing with all kinds of possible problems –
including health and money problems – university culture, friends and life outside the
Throughout the book, readers will find interesting accounts of people who have
been abroad, reporting not only on their successful experiences, but also on the problems
they have faced and how they managed to deal with them.
The book also includes a glossary where readers will find a list of words to help
them understand what people say. The authors advise the readers that the words are mainly
found “in universities which follow the British tradition” and that students may “find
differences in places where they use American terms” (p. 212). It is a pity, though, that they
make no advice of which words are differently used in American universities, nor do they
list these American terms.
As it is a reference book, it is not necessary to read the book linearly. On the
contrary, readers may choose the chapters they want to read, according to their interests.
There is also an index, where readers can look up the topic they are interested in and go
straight to the appropriate section.
All in all, the book is of general interest to anyone studying or preparing to study in
an English speaking country. It is a readable, easy-language, take-along guide that readers
will find very useful both in their academic and social life. I only wish I had had the chance
to read it when I was 17 and naïvely studying abroad.
Publicado na Revista English Teaching Professional, n. 30, p. 46, January 2004.