Good Grammar Rules at Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus
International students at The University of Notre Dame Australia have the opportunity to strengthen their English language skills with an innovative new academic support program.
Each Tuesday afternoon, during second semester, a group of international students meets to practise their speaking, writing, reading and listening skills and to fine tune their understanding of the complexities of English grammar.
According to Associate Professor Keith McNaught of Notre Dame’s Academic Enabling and Support Centre, the program has responded to an important need felt by the University’s international students and their lecturers.
“Transitioning from general conversational to academic standards of English is a challenge that is keenly felt by most international students,” said Associate Professor McNaught.
“Even post graduate students can find making formal presentations and preparing essays that are cohesive and grammatically correct quite challenging.
“We have recognised the need for extra support and were more than delighted when Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults trained teacher, Sue Booth, volunteered her time to run a transitions program for our students.”
Associate Professor McNaught said Ms Booth’s style of teaching was recognised for its interactive approach, drawing on the body of knowledge within each group as a key learning tool.
“Students are placed in groups to complete a wide range of tasks aimed at building confidence in public speaking, effective note-taking during lectures, researching and preparing essays and applying the appropriate language structures to all aspects of their work,” he said.
Ms Booth said it was a pleasure to work with students whose confidence was growing as a result of contact with others who were keen and motivated to learn.
“They learn so much from each other and enjoy the social contact with their fellow international students. This helps them to realise they are not alone in the difficulties international students face in studying at Australian universities,” said Ms Booth.
Associate Professor McNaught said the response from students had been extremely positive and despite classes being after-hours and requiring an extra commitment of time and effort, the participation had been enthusiastic.
“We have students who travel up to two hours each way to attend the class, including a Diocesan Priest and a Nun from Vietnam,” he said.
Diocesan Priest, Fr. Quang Nguyen, said he appreciated Ms Booth’s gentle and patient style of teaching and it was a worthwhile trip to attend the class he loved.
“With a class like this for international students, we understand the hardships that we each have to face and so we help each other,” said Fr. Nguyen.
“In order to share our difficulties with native speakers, we need to understand and communicate with them to be able to have sympathy and friendliness, which is very necessary,” he said.
Associate Professor McNaught said the program was currently in its trial-phase with strong indications that it could earn an ongoing place in the Centre’s suite of support and enabling services.
“Notre Dame values highly the presence and contribution that our international students make to the life of the University. Supporting them well is an important priority for us,” he said.
Participants in the English language skills program come from all over the world and include first degree and post graduate students from a broad range of disciplines, including nursing, public relations, accounting, business administration and religious studies.
Andrea Barnard (+61) 8 9433 0610, Mob (+61) 0408 959 138
Barnard, Andrea, "Good Grammar Rules at Notre Dame" (2010). Media Release Archive. 133.