Summer Pre-Sessional English Course 2020

The Oxford University Language Centre is pleased to offer this preparatory course for new international students. The six-week intensive programme is designed to provide the necessary academic language and literacy skills to succeed in the English-speaking university environment. Visiting academics and students aiming to study at universities other than Oxford are also very welcome to apply. The course focus on written and spoken academic communication prepares you to perform at a high level from the very beginning of your degree course. In particular you will benefit from:

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The Pre-Sessional Course is a full-time intensive course, geared towards improving the academic language and literacy of students in a compressed time-frame. It provides an opportunity to meet and connect with people from around the world, learn about British culture and visit places of interest in and around Oxford. This means students integrate into University life quickly and effectively.

The Pre-sessional course will help you:

  • Write academic English for different audiences and purposes
  • Understand grammatical aspects of language that pose difficulty for non-native writers
  • Read more effectively, with increased efficiency and speed
  • Speak academic English in presentations, seminars and tutorials
  • Improve your pronunciation
  • Learn effectively from lectures
  • Develop academic study skills such as searching for information and referencing sources
  • Focus on tasks relevant to your discipline
  • Become aware of your strengths and weaknesses and learn independently
  • Develop critical thinking
  • Become aware of the culture of your discipline
  • Understand the culture of the University

Pre-sessional classes usually take place at the Language Centre, and are broken into two broad course components, which will be taught by different tutors. These are:

Written Communication
This segment of the pre-sessional course covers all aspects of written language production and comprehension. This can be broadly broken into three core skills:

Academic Reading
These lessons are aimed at helping students read with increased efficiency and speed, while enabling them to cope with problems encountered during reading. The following areas are covered:

  1. A review of reading strategies
  2. Faster reading 
  3. Note taking and summarising
  4. Sources of difficulty (e.g. vocabulary, grammar, reference, cohesion)
  5. Coping with sentence length
  6. Recognising different discourse structures
  7. Identifying the writer’s stance as well as the purpose of the text (i.e. reading ‘between the lines’)

Academic Writing
In this module, a comprehensive review of the foundations of academic writing is provided. Although some writing will be done in class, students are expected to complete a number of writing tasks at home. This module will cover:

  1. The ‘English’ essay
  2. Organisation and structure
  3. Conventions of graduate writing
  4. The writing process (including planning a longer research project)
  5. Editing and reformulating
  6. Cohesion

Language Study
This covers grammatical aspects of language that pose difficulty for non-native writers. The focus is placed on reviewing English syntax with a view to increasing your technical knowledge of English and, in so doing, improving your written work. The following areas are covered:

  1. Sentence types
  2. Linking language
  3. Demarcation and Punctuation
  4. Citation Conventions

Spoken Communication
This segment of the pre-sessional course covers all aspects of spoken language. This can be broadly broken into three core skills:

Academic Listening
Although some listening to social, informal English is included in these lessons, the main objective is to prepare students to deal with lectures, seminars and tutorials. The module therefore covers:

  1. Prediction and inference
  2. Recognising intonation
  3. Recognising reduced forms
  4. Listening for ‘gist’, as well as for detail
  5. From listening to note-taking
  6. Recognition of lecturing devices (such as recycling, reformulating, exemplifying, explaining, expanding and summarising)

Academic Speaking and Presentation Skills
During the pre-sessional, students will be asked to take part in: individual/group presentations, seminars, debates, panel and group discussions. In particular, you will be expected to give two presentations (one pair/group presentation and one solo presentation in your own discipline).

This module therefore covers:

  1. Preparing and giving presentations
  2. ‘Holding the floor’
  3. Role of the audience (e.g. questioning speakers in an appropriate manner)
  4. Question and answer techniques
  5. Appropriate use of lexis 
  6. Awareness of register

Communication and Pronunciation
The main emphasis of the ‘communication’ lessons is on encouraging fluency. This can include any form of oral work (appropriate responses, vocabulary development in context) or focus on simulations and social English. The dedicated ‘pronunciation’ lessons are intended to help students improve stress, intonation etc.

These lessons cover:

  1. Question and answer techniques
  2. Interrupting
  3. Returning to the topic
  4. Expressing opinions
  5. Collocations and idioms
  6. Complete and partial agreement
  7. Disagreement
  • The course is open to all students with conditional or unconditional offers from Oxford University
  • The course will also accept academic visitors and students intending to study at other universities
  • Applicants need to demonstrate their current level of English prior to commencing the pre-sessional course. English tests recognised by the Language Centre include: IELTS, TOEFL, CAE and CPE
  • Oxford University requires evidence of ability in English for admission to its courses. While the pre-sessional may be a condition for entrance onto a degree course, it is not an alternative to the test scores required by the University. For details of the University’s English language requirements for undergraduate study, click here and for graduate study, click here
  • Information for students who need to apply for a Tier 4 visa

The cost of accommodation is not included in the course fee. However, students studying at Oxford University often secure accommodation in their own colleges for the summer pre-sessional period. In the first instance, students should contact their college as soon as possible to enquire about the availability, and cost, of rooms for August and September.

If college accommodation is not available, or for students intending to study at other universities, the Language Centre can provide information about suitable student accommodation in Oxford.

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