The International Student's Guide: Studying in English at University

Author(s) Ricky Lowes, Helen Peters, Marie Turner
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd
Published 2004
Pages 192
Price £19.99
ISBN 076194253X
Reviewed by Dr Robyn Cox
University of Worcester
Review published 17 October 2005

This is a new book in the ‘SAGE Study Skills Series’ and the target audience is overseas students who are studying at a University where English is the medium of teaching – the book has a specific focus on students studying at a University in the United Kingdom. The aim of the book is to provide ways of learning, improving English, making the most of your strengths and working in seminars and groups.

The International Student's Guide Studying in English at University written by the team of Ricky Lowes, Helen Peters and Marie Turner who teach at London Metropolitan University is a well-targeted and very useful book. The target audience is primarily students coming to the United Kingdom to study at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The text focuses on both the needs of the learner in relation to the English language and the context of the English tertiary classroom.

The style adopted by the team is well conceived and clearly shows much experience with dealing with students who are working in their second language at the tertiary level. The great strength of the book is the structure of the chapters and the use of ‘students’ voices’ - this device allows for students to read the thinking and response of others and to ease some of the stress of the process of learning a language and an educational system at the same time. The chapters have a chapter aim; (enabling students to have a meta-awareness of where they are going); tasks (which ask students to apply knowledge gained from the chapter); and further resources (which allow students to move off on their own and focus more closely on topics of particular need or interest to them).

There are twelve chapters in the book with the conventional chapter headings that would be expected of a book of this type. However the writers have managed to create a book that is not typical of its genre and which does offer a new slant on the ‘English for academic purposes’ textbook. The book is fresh and covers topics in an unexpected way; often relying on the student to reflect on their own uses of English and suggests asking other students’ views of the topics. Often writers of textbooks to assist learners of English to achieve academic success will use as organisers for content the four macros skills: reading; writing; listening; and speaking. The writers of this book have selected chapter headings that more closely serve the readers’ needs. Particularly useful are the chapters titled – ‘Giving oral presentations’ and ‘Coping with life as an international student’. This approach shows clearly that the writing team thoroughly know the intended readers of the book.

The book is highly recommended as a text for working with students particularly on a pre-degree foundation course or studying for a degree or post-graduate qualification. Tutors overseas preparing students to come into a UK university context could also use the course book. In fact, this could be a valuable further use of the materials.