Current Students

English Language Good Practice Guide

The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and logically in English is crucial to study at the University and is a required attribute of all graduates.

This Good Practice Guide outlines the shared responsibilities of University staff and students for incrementally building students’ English language skills.

  1. General guidelines
  2. STUDYSmarter services
  3. Responsibilities of UWA staff
  4. Responsibilities of UWA students

General guidelines

It is expected that UWA students will:

  • continue to develop their English language communication skills post admission
  • be supported in this development by staff
  • be highly articulate in English by the time they graduate.

To achieve these aims, staff should give high priority to early intervention. For effective early intervention, it is important to:

  • integrate information on the University's English language development expectations and assistance into materials routinely distributed to students
  • incorporate English language assessment and development activities into academic programs where possible
  • be alert to students’ needs for additional English language development
  • refer students to STUDYSmarter services where appropriate, and
  • phrase such referrals in a positive manner.

Staff can assist the uptake of services by routinely asking students if they know about the STUDYSmarter programs available to assist them to gain a competitive edge in their studies. When these services are mentioned repeatedly in contexts that tap into students’ academic aspirations, follow-up referrals are more readily accepted by students than when they are introduced for the first time in the context of a perceived learning or language skills deficit.

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STUDYSmarter services

The STUDYSmarter team at Student Services aims to assist all students of the University to develop skills and techniques for independent, articulate, life-long learning. This team provides a diverse range of interactive face-to-face sessions, online and hard copy resources and electronic communication modes to improve student learning. The team also works collaboratively with staff across and outside UWA to promote excellence in teaching and learning through joint teaching, research projects and community service.

STUDYSmarter services are run through Student Services. The STUDYSmarter site provides comprehensive information and an extensive range of downloadable resources for students and staff. The English Language Corner  contains advice on and links to services and resources designed specifically to assist English language skills development.

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Responsibilities of UWA staff

All professional and academic staff members who have direct contact with students are normally expected to:

  • identify students who may require additional English language skills development when they are interacting with students
  • know where additional English language skills training is available and provide details of facilities available, and
  • advise students of their responsibilities for English language development (see over page).

Some simple ways of determining whether additional English language training is required include asking students about their studies, getting them to repeat information, checking how well they have completed forms, seeing how well they follow instructions, observing their interaction with others, and listening for gaps in their communication.

University staff members who develop curricula and co-ordinate academic programs are normally expected to:

  • ensure curricula, teaching and assessment practices develop English language communication skills as part of the normal academic program
  • ensure that each level of a major requires students to demonstrate English language communication skills
  • apply increasing standards of satisfactory communication in English progressively during the course, and
  • include in all unit outlines the following statement or similar:
    Assistance with study skills, including English language skills, is available free of charge to all enrolled students from Student Services.

University staff members who teach academic programs are normally expected to:

  • integrate English language development with teaching practices, for example by modelling the discourse of the discipline and indicating appropriate standards
  • identify students who may require training in additional English language skills through informal means, for example by engaging students in dialogue and monitoring in-class activities and discussions
  • integrate English language development with assessment practices so that students’ English language development needs can be detected early
  • provide students with reasonable levels of feedback to assist them to improve their skills or to remedy deficiencies
  • know where additional English language skills training is available and provide details of facilities available to assist English language development, and
  • know where staff development support is available for integrating, assessing and providing feedback on English language communication skills and access such support as required.

STUDYSmarter Advisers are normally expected to:

  • provide free services and resources that assist students to develop English language communication, critical information literacy and independent learning skills
  • collaborate with staff across and outside UWA on joint teaching, community service and research projects that promote excellence in teaching and learning, and
  • develop, deliver and evaluate discipline-specific curricula and resources in conjunction with other staff on a minimal cost-recovery basis.

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Responsibilities of UWA students

While staff members at the University have significant responsibilities for assisting students in their ongoing development of English language communication skills, students need to accept the major responsibility for their English language development and take an active learning approach to developing their skills. Students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their English language communication skills, pro-actively seeking out the services and resources available to help them, and applying what they learn.

UWA students are normally expected to:

  • demonstrate increasing levels of English language competency, information literacy and study skills throughout their studies
  • set their own English language communication development goals and monitor their own progress, seeking assistance to do so where necessary
  • seek feedback on English language skills from a variety of sources
  • reflect on assessment feedback and apply suggestions to future pieces of work, and
  • access assistance and work on improving their English language skills if advised to do so by a member of the University staff.

Endorsed by the Teaching and Learning Committee, September 2009: R38/09

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