Advancing English Language Skills throughout the Summer

The importance of using the summer months to read extensively in English cannot be emphasized enough, especially for students who study in English at universities such as UNYP where the local language is so different. After spending one semester at university, most students soon recognize that the more they read and write in English, the better their overall language skills become. This is nothing new. Since the period between the spring and fall semesters can span almost four months, students need to do their utmost to improve upon their mastery of English. To that end, university students have three ways of working on their English language acquisition throughout the summer months.

Students who want to ensure they graduate on time or graduate may enrol in one or both of the summer intensive semesters. Alternately,  some students seek employment where they have the opportunity to speak, read and write in English. This linguistic reinforcement facilitates language acquisition. In an office environment, for example, there are many opportunities to read correspondence from a variety of sources where students can observe the way the language is used in a professional setting.

Those students who work completely outside of English can also benefit from the office experience by comparing the content of email messages, be they sales oriented or otherwise, with their English equivalents. For example, have you compared the promotional text of a British travel insurance provider to one written in Slovakian, Turkish or any other language? It might be worth examining the differences in language that companies offering similar services or products use to attract potential customers.

Even the student who would rather use the summer months to take a holiday from all things 'academic' may find that much reading can be done in one's free time. Making a habit of taking time to read for pleasure can benefit a degree-seeking student. For final-year students who are approaching their senior research projects, extensive reading is most advantageous. I strongly recommend The Immortal Life of  Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot published by Crown in 2010. This is an incredible work of non-fiction that combines accessible scientific research with real life histories within a period in 20th century American history. It is, particularly for students, a good example of how to make research interesting for the student and the reader.

During the university pre-registration period, students have the opportunity to organize their course schedules for the fall semester. Exploring the required and suggested readings for courses should be included in every student's agenda. Students should consult the university's course catalogue and/or their Department Advisor for further information about specific course requirements. Why wait to be given a reading list from a professor at the beginning of the semester? I suggest spending a few hours at a computer terminal during the summer months to review course introductory material and other relevant information so that you will be familiar with the material and be better prepared at the start of the semester.

Continual practice of the English language throughout their academic and professional careers should be the goal of all English-medium
university students, such as those who attend UNYP. The summer time should be used as productively as possible in order to become proficient in using the  English language. The suggestions given above are positive ways of developing English language skills that will take you closer to future academic and professional success.  Enjoy reading and writing throughout your summer.

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