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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds When you study in England, it’s easy to get confused with some of the language you’ll come across. Some of the words I thought I knew already turn out to mean something else at university. My advice, don’t panic.

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 seconds I expected I’d be sitting in a big lecture theatre listening to the lecturer talk about the subject and that I’ll be taking notes and keeping quiet. Sometimes that happened, but sometimes the lecturer would ask questions and expect an answer. On other occasions, we’d discuss amongst ourselves. It’s important you take part.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds Attending a seminar meant meeting as a smaller group after the lecture. During seminars, we discussed the ideas from the lecture amongst ourselves. Our teacher will usually be present to help with understanding and provoke more discussion. It’s important here to ask challenging questions.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds We also had to research topics on our own to deepen our knowledge of what we are studying. Sometimes we’d have to present our findings in our seminars. This is called independent learning and really helped me to understand the topic better.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds Having a tutorial can mean meeting your tutor one to one to get individual guidance on your studies, but if you have a group tutorial, there could be 10 of you asking questions. This can happen when you are preparing for exams or assignments and the tutors want to give you more guidance. Whether you are learning in a group or on your own, the best advice I can give you is to plan ahead.

Omar shares his experience

Watch Omar explain how his experience of lectures, seminars, tutorials and independent learning differed from his expectations.

The way words are defined in a dictionary and what they mean in real life when spoken or written can be very different.

For example, the Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary definition of ‘assignment’ is:

A piece of work or job that you are given to do: a written assignment

An assignment at a UK university could be a piece of written work that you are given to do. However, it could be almost any other kind of activity depending on your chosen course of study. For example, if you study business, your assignment might be to create your own start-up company and pitch it to investors. If you are studying engineering, you might have to create products using Lego and explain your models to industry experts.

Your task

Use Omar’s experience of lectures, seminars, tutorials and independent learning to add to your entries for these terms in your vocabulary log.

What new information about the terms has Omar given you? Write a comment about what you have found out and then read other posts from your peers to make sure you have noticed all the differences and similarities.


Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary (2018) ‘assignment’ [online] available from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/assignment [24 May 2018]

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This video is from the free online course:

English for Academic Study

Coventry University