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Support for International Students from DLC

'I speak English really well, so do I need this?'

Key quote:

'Academic English is no one's mother tongue'.

We don't walk around in our daily life speaking in a concise, structured, evidence based, formal way, evaluating our findings.  We just give our opinions and describe what we are seeing or think!  People can ask us questions if they don't get our full meaning.

What does this mean?

Academic English is about style, argument, structure, criticality and evaluation and is not just a language of words.  Academic conventions may be different in other academic languages.

We all have things to learn and develop as far as Academic English is concerned.  We should make the most of all the resources and support available to learn, develop and refresh our knowledge and skills.

Studying in the UK

The statements below are considered typical requirements of what makes up 'the good student' according to the western education model. Are they what you would expect to see about UK study? Do they differ or are they the same to expectations in your own country?

  • Be an active learner
  • Have and justify opinions
  • Participate in discussions
  • Contribute to teamwork
  • Approach lecturers for help or to ask questions
  • Follow strict assessment procedures and guidelines
  • Use your own words to express ideas
  • Support your ideas and opinions with clear evidence
  • Critically evaluate all that you read and find out about

The purpose of active learning in western education

The purpose of these requirements is to get students to develop ideas and think critically. You are not just repeating and learning facts, but are able to evaluate, justify and give explanations and suggestions.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills are also highly desirable in the world of work.


Read the following summary about students in western education and the difficulty that some students have with understanding its purpose.

  • Can you explain in your own words what is being said?
  • What are your thoughts about these statements?

"A postgraduate student in a western university should be 'independent and self-reliant. They should find information for themselves and think for themselves. It is up to them and their actions as to how successful they are.

Sometimes, though, this can feel as if you are teaching yourself, especially as high tuition fees are involved." 

Davies, M. (2022) Study Skills for International Postgraduates. 2nd edn. Bloomsbury: London