If English is your second or additional language, you can build on your speaking, writing, reading and listening skills by regularly practising your English. This will help you to do well in your studies. There are many opportunities to keep improving your English while at the ANU.
Writing in English at university begins with understanding assessment tasks and what is expected. On our Writing and assessment site, there are a number of resources which will introduce you to the different types of assessment that you may need to complete during your studies. There are also resources to help you write and edit your work.
Note-taking in lectures, tutorials and for your readings provides you with opportunities to regularly practice using the terms, ideas and concepts relevant to your courses. It is also useful to build a glossary for academic English. When reading through your course materials, note down the types of words that are common in that topic, and write a definition that helps you to understand those words. This can help you to expand your academic vocabulary.
Check out our Note-taking and Reading strategies pages for some templates and further ideas.
If you are looking for more specific resources on English language, take a look at the following.
- Griffith University grammar and writing resources provide easy to use examples and strategies.
- Academic word lists can help you to choose the right words when writing assignments.
- ANU library has a range of grammar references and textbooks that are useful tools for practicing your English, such as Michael Swan's Practical English Usage.
- Dictionaries and thesauruses can be useful to learn new vocabulary. Be careful when using thesauruses though, as many synonyms can have very different meanings. Go back and check your academic glossary, and ask yourself whether you have seen the word or phrase used in any academic texts. If so then it is probably safe to use.
Let's Speak English!
Throughtout semester, Academic Skills offers English conversation groups. Let's Speak English groups are a great way to practice your English even while studying remotely.
It helps me to speak more fluently and make more friends.
For information on how to join in to the groups, check our English Conversation groups page. These are fun and relaxed groups for ANU students, guided by an experienced peer facilitator. These groups also offer plenty of opportunities to speak with a variety of local students and native English speakers.
English in your residential hall
Many of the ANU residential halls run English language conversation groups. Ask your community coordinator or academic team about what is available to you.
More speaking opportunities
Conversation groups are very effective at developing both speaking and listening skills. Consider joining one or more of the following.
- Mentoring: Take advantage of mentoring opportunites around campus like SET4ANU and the Get up and go walking program. These will give you a chance to meet new people, practise your English and learn more about Canberra and the ANU.
- Study groups: Forming a study group is an excellent way of practicing your English and learning your course material at the same time. Ask people in your course to form a study group with you, meet at a regular time, and come prepared to discuss questions you have about the course material. Check whether study groups and Peer Assisted Learning programs already exist in your academic college or your residential hall.
- Clubs and societies: Why not join one of the ANU Clubs and Societies? Sharing common interests like chocolate, Harry Potter, gaming, sports, and many more can be a great way to use your English and make new friends.
- Practice with friends: Set aside a regular time to speak only English - for instance when you cook dinner or go out for coffee.
- Conversation groups: During the year, Libraries ACT run regular conversation groups that anyone can join. Google ACT Libraries multicultural services.
Reading and listening
One of the key ways to improve your reading and listening skills is to use them as much as possible. Frequent use improves fluency. There are many ways that you can actively use your reading and listening skills:
- Read for fun in English. Try reading books like Harry Potter, comics, magazines, and entertaining books which you have already read in your first language. When reading, work out the new vocabulary from the context and guess at the meanings.
- Read and watch the news in English. Newspapers and televised news are good places to develop an understanding of more 'formal' English.
- Watch films and television shows in English, or with English subtitles. This can be a great way to get accustomed to listening to fast speakers.
- Switch your devices to English. This can help you to think and function in English.
Remember, if you have any further questions or concerns about your English, Academic Skills is here to help.