English language

  • Many students, both international and home students, would like to improve their English. Learning English is an ongoing process that never stops, and even experienced lecturers want to improve their writing. If English isn’t your first language, you may need to plan additional time in your schedule for looking up and learning vocabulary when reading, and for checking and correcting your writing. 

    Our top tips

    Take an Academic English course

    The best way to develop your English is through a structured programme with support and feedback. The Academic English team provide credit-bearing modules each semester to suit all English language learners. See their website for how to sign up to courses:  

    Language learner dictionaries

    These are a type of dictionary especially designed for the needs of language learners. You can find many language learner dictionaries in the Library, such as The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary - try searching for ‘advanced learner’s English dictionary’ in the Library catalogue.

    Work on your weaknesses

    Finishing a class isn’t the end of the process; you will need to keep practising on your own. Keep a list of the main areas you find difficult (tenses, agreement of verbs, articles such as ‘the’ / ‘a’) and use resources such as this website to help you continue to develop:

    Use it - read, speak, listen:

    A good way to develop your English is to use it as much as possible. Read fiction for pleasure, listen to podcasts, or read a newspaper regularly. This website has resources to help you practice:

    Academic Literacy

    Being able to use the language and styles of writing expected in academic work is important. The comprehensive resource below has self-guided exercises focussing on the English language conventions and vocabulary needed in different areas of academic writing. Click on the tabs across the top to find language-based resources on areas such as paraphrasing, building an argument, and criticality:

    What’s a comma splice? How do I use a semi colon?

    If you are a native English speaker, you may still be unsure about correct grammar and punctuation rules, especially if you just use them intuitively. This site goes through all the main grammar issues and has short tests so you can check your understanding:

    Also see our page on academic writing.