Teaching

Reading course at the ready

It’s early days yet at the studyFIT English Learning Support service.  Our faculty-specific bridging courses are still in development, and we have only recently launched a survey to find out FernUni students’ English learning needs.

However, there are some language courses you may not have heard of which may be able to tide you over in the meantime.  The Department of Political Science within the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences offers a reading course, which while primarily aimed at students of those subjects, has much to commend it for all students.

The design

Having tackled her Political Science doctoral thesis in German, American-born Lisa Pettibone has hands-on experience of the insecurities and anxieties that come with doing academic work in a second language.  This sensitivity to the learner’s perspective informs the course design of “Reading academic texts in English”, a self-paced learning environment that has been running on Moodle since October 2021.  “I’m not a language teacher,” Dr Pettibone says; “So students should be aware that the focus of the course is on developing latent skills rather than constructing a reading skill set from scratch. Because myriad elements are involved in reading and comprehension, you really don’t follow a linear path, anyway.  What is on offer here is a modular course, allowing students to dip into whatever themes they like, whenever they like.”

A model module

A unit that has proved particularly popular with users is all about the vagaries of a nascent language variety dubbed ‘EU English’ – an offshoot from the tree of bureaucracy.  “Reading and understanding the wide range of European Council and European Union documents requires practice,” Pettibone says.  “And whilst communiqués are published in the main languages of the 27 member states, one can’t function at the forefront of the EU without sound English skills.  For example, a Czech friend of mine had never really bothered with English, but now with the Czech Republic taking over the EU Presidency next July, she has a lot of catching up to do!”

To learn some of Dr Pettibone’s tips for predicting, scanning and skimming academic texts, sign up for her course here.

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