English for Uni

Julia Miller, lecturer in academic skills in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide, is passionate about language. She has created a website for International students to help them learn ‘English for Uni’.

“The online resource came about because I‟ve done a lot of research and things such as articles, „a‟, „an‟ and „the‟ are a major point in the English language that international students struggle with. Tenses in academic writing, passives, conditionals, essay writing, referencing and punctuation also need to be taught a lot more.” „Memoirs of A Parrot‟ is the title of the first instalment of language based activities on the English for Uni website. It‟s a „millionaire‟ style grammar quiz show, starring Dr Miller as grammar detective Ms Parrot. Many international students worldwide have enjoyed using this online resource. “The benefits are that anybody can access the website anywhere in the world. There are exercises with answers and long explanations for each answer. There are various principles which you can apply, and it‟s done in an engaging and funny way,” Dr Miller says. Dr Miller also teaches an intensive workshop for International students. This course includes language points English speaking students take for granted, like; how to write assignments, structure an essay, referencing, plagiarism, time management, exam preparation and English grammar. To effectively learn English as a second language takes practice. English is said to be a tough language to learn, if it‟s not one‟s native tongue, because of the unusual grammar patterns, abbreviations, and idioms. For Dr Miller‟s PhD she combined lexicography (dictionaries), phraseology (idioms and phrases), and English language learning. After extensive research, she concluded that English learners dictionaries don‟t include enough Australian content for international students in this country. In order to save English grammar, Dr Miller regularly contributes to a blog about English grammar. “I‟m a member of the „Grammar Gang Blog‟ and contribute posts on different aspects of English writing, punctuation or referencing. Dr Miller also works in an intensive introductory academic program for AusAID scholars at the University of Adelaide. “These students come from all over the world, and the scholarship is very competitive. The students apply in their own countries, then the Australian Government sponsors them to come here and study for the duration of their degrees. Most of them are doing postgraduate degrees. We always evaluate the program and the feedback we receive from the students is really positive. They start off unsure about the course, because it‟s very intensive, but then they get to the end and they are all very cheerful again, saying it‟s been a great experience for them. We take on board any suggestions students make. If they‟ve got a way of improving the course, we listen to it and try and implement it.”

Dr Miller continues to save English grammar through her work in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide and the English for Uni website, and is applying for funding to create more instalments of the Ms Parrot series.

This article looks at the creation of a website, ‘English for Uni,’ by academic skills lecturer Julia Miller to help international students learn English and enhance their academic skills to recognise grammar patterns, abbreviations and idioms in the School of Education at University of Adelaide.

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