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Insessional support and language development

Insessional support and language development (ISLD)

Our International Programmes ISLD team can help you to become more familiar with your university study in the UK.

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We provide advice and resources to support you in approaching your course tasks and managing lectures, seminars, writing and reading in English.

How we can help

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1 to 1 tutorials

Book an individual tutorial to discuss your language development and study needs.

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Academic Discussion Group

Thursdays: 1.00pm to 2.00pm in Holgate 102. Join our friendly weekly group, to enjoy discussing academic topics. Practise critical thinking and giving your opinion, with no specialist knowledge or preparation needed.

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Open Workshops

Attend our Open Workshops to learn more about the skills you will need for your university tasks in the UK and ask any questions.

ISLD Moodle site

Find advice at any time on the ISLD Moodle site. Self-enrol for useful information and resources.

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Discover more about the resources available on Moodle using the drop down menu below.

Knowing your subject is not enough to pass your university examinations. You need to write clear, well-organised and well-argued assignments, in the correct academic style, and with full and correct referencing and in-text citation.

  • Don't panic! There is advice and support available and this is one of the skills you are at university to learn.
  • Ensure, before anything else, that you have really understood the assignment task and know your objective for writing. Then, make your writing plan to achieve this.
  • The Study Development factsheets 'Survival Guide to Essay Writing' and 'Decoding the Essay Question' are a very good place to start.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Writing' section) has more advice, resources and plenty of handouts. You can also attend our 'Writing Skills' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

You may be asked to use 'critical thinking' (critical analysis, critical evaluation, or 'criticality') in a task or assignment. It is important to understand what this means, and how to apply it.

  • Critical thinking gives you the opportunity to engage with the subject you’re studying and to ask questions about it.
  • Evaluate the information you're learning, reading or writing about. Look for reliable evidence to prove its claims. Don't just accept evidence because it’s in a book or a journal. Ask how, why, and other questions about it.
  • Critical evaluation may sound complicated, but there are resources to help you. Look at the Study Development Critical Thinking Questions Factsheet'.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Critical Thinking and Evaluation' section) has more resources and advice. You can also attend our 'Critical Thinking and Evaluation' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

It might sound difficult or even scary, but you must use referencing in your university work. If you do not, this is 'plagiarism' (using someone else's words or ideas without saying whose ideas / words you have used) and is not allowed.

  • The good news is that referencing and citation follow a system. Remember: you must reference both during and at the end of your writing and presentations, every time you include someone else's words or ideas.
  • Find out which referencing system your module requires you to use (check the Moodle page for your module or ask your tutor). Go to the York St John Referencing page, find the correct guide for your module, and follow the instructions.
  • The University offers many resources to help you avoid plagiarism and it is very important to ask for advice if you are unsure. Your Academic Liaison Librarian can also help you.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Referencing and Paraphrasing' section) has more useful advice and resources. You can also attend our 'Referencing and Paraphrasing' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

What do you usually do when you are given feedback for an essay, presentation or assignment? Perhaps you don't want to read it. It can be difficult to read comments that seem negative when you have been working hard. However, please don't allow yourself to think of these comments as 'negative.'

  • Think of feedback as your guide. Read it together with your assignment Marking Criteria, so that you can see how to improve your work and your skills.
  • Imagine if a company didn't listen to its customers' feedback. It might lose valuable customers.
  • Use your feedback positively. Transform it into specific actions you can take. 'I must work harder' is not a specific action. For example, if your feedback says 'References?', check that you have used references and that they are in the correct format.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Feedback' section) has more information on how to make best use of your feedback. You can also attend our 'Using Feedback' Open Workshop.

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Reading can seem difficult at first. Start by focusing on what you can understand, and always read with an objective (know why you are reading and what you are aiming to achieve).

  • Focus your reading – know what you are reading for and use reading strategies, such as skimming and scanning, to decide quickly if a text (or which sections of a text) will be helpful and relevant to your objectives.
  • Check your module's Moodle page to find your reading list.
  • If you have an assignment to write, the University's Library page has useful links and library services (such as referencing help and subject resources). Your Academic Liaison Librarian can also help.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Reading' section) has information on reading strategies. You can also attend our 'Reading Skills' Open Workshop.

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Presentations don't need to be stressful or scary. Good presentation skills will help you in so many areas of your life.

  • Think of your objective in giving this presentation. What do you want the audience to learn or think about as a result of your presentation?
  • Remember to include references during and at the end of your presentation.
  • Practise, but do not write or memorise a script.
  • Always remember... it's a presentation... not a shark!
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Presentations' section) has more advice and useful resources. You can also attend our 'Presentation Skills' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

Listening to English will help you to understand lectures and seminars, and improve your vocabulary knowledge, language skills and grammar awareness.

  • Help yourself to understand more in lectures and seminars by preparing before you attend. Find the information (lecture slides or recommended reading), and add your own notes, translations and questions to it.
  • Read a short, simple introduction to the lecture topic if it is something completely new to you.
  • When you are in the lecture, make notes of the important information only. Use note-taking skills: don't try to write every word or to translate during lectures.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Listening' section) has more information on listening skills. You can also attend our 'Listening Skills' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

Speaking in another language in seminars and discussions may be a challenge. You might feel shy or embarrassed or worry that you don't have enough vocabulary to say anything interesting. However, at university, you should participate actively in seminars and discussion tasks.

  • Don't compare yourself to other people. Don't worry about how well you think they can speak, or what they might be thinking when you are speaking. They are probably thinking about their own answers!
  • Be ready to contribute. Prepare for the topic of your next discussion or seminar by looking for specialist vocabulary you might need. Always read the text(s) that you are asked to, before the seminar.
  • Practise discussing and critically evaluating interesting topics at the ISLD Academic Discussion Group.
  • Learn a few phrases to help you make contributions in discussions and seminars.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Speaking' section) has useful examples of language for problem solving and participating in discussions. You can also attend our 'Speaking Skills' Open Workshop.

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Grammar is your 'tool kit', to construct better sentences and communicate your meaning more clearly and effectively, with academic style. Knowing more vocabulary allows you to better express your ideas and understand what you are reading and hearing.

  • Ensure you are using good, basic grammar correctly; notice any mistakes you often make and learn how to correct these.
  • When you read academic English texts, look at the grammar and vocabulary and what functions they have (for example, contrasting two different ideas or comparing two similar ones).
  • Follow the rules of academic style. To apply these rules well, keep building your academic vocabulary.
  • Learn 6 to 8 new academic words per day that will be useful to your studies. For example, specialist vocabulary for your subject and words from the Academic Word List.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Grammar' and 'Vocabulary' sections) has more advice. You can also attend our 'Grammar and Vocabulary Recharge' and 'Academic Style' Open Workshops.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

Plan your study time and assignment process to ensure you have the information you need and avoid last-minute rushing. Don't panic, and don’t wait if you are unsure of the question or task, or how to start. Ask your tutor or ISLD.

  • Read the Moodle pages for your modules carefully for information on topics, assignments and your reading list.
  • Learn how to reference properly. Look at the York St John Referencing page, and the ISLD Moodle site 'Referencing' section.
  • If you are not sure what to write about or how to start your assignment, it might be because you are not sure what the task is and what it means. Take your time and use the Study Development 'Decoding the question' factsheet.
  • Look at your Marking Criteria, so that you understand what is considered good, very good... and not so good!
  • Finally, don't allow yourself to become daunted or stressed. You will need to read the assignment question / task more than once, and to take some time to think, research and plan before you can complete the task. Work steadily and take regular breaks.
For more information

The ISLD Moodle site ('Assignment Planning / Study Skills' section) has more advice. You can also attend our 'Approaching your Assignments / Study Skills' Open Workshop.

Enrol on Moodle (opens in new window)

Get in touch

Email us at language-support@yorksj.ac.uk.

For more support, information and useful resources on study skills, library and referencing, digital training and assistive technology please see the York St John Study Skills page.

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