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The LLM Pre-sessional course at the University of Southampton Dr Liz Hauge, Centre for Language Study Prof Natalie Lee, Head of the School of Law.

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Presentation on theme: "The LLM Pre-sessional course at the University of Southampton Dr Liz Hauge, Centre for Language Study Prof Natalie Lee, Head of the School of Law."— Presentation transcript:

1 The LLM Pre-sessional course at the University of Southampton Dr Liz Hauge, Centre for Language Study Prof Natalie Lee, Head of the School of Law

2 2 2003: Pre-sessional courses at the University of Southampton Preparatory course: 6 weeks of General English Course A: 8 weeks of English for General Academic Purposes Course B: 4 weeks of English for General Academic Purposes

3 3 Course content - Academic Reading skills - Academic Writing skills - Academic Listening and Note-taking skills (with live guest lectures from university staff in various disciplines) - Academic Speaking skills - Grammar - Pronunciation - Independent study/ tutorials Materials: General EAP materials in skills course books)

4 4 Advantages and disadvantages Advantages Students become familiar with: - UK HE teaching /learning methods - The university and the local environment - British culture (to some extent) Disadvantages Students become familiar with: - Written English formats and vocabulary which may be irrelevant to their specific needs - A referencing system which may not be used in their discipline

5 5 A problem in the School of Law A large intake of international students, some of whom were experiencing severe problems with certain aspects of the LLM: –coping with the heavy reading workload; –writing in appropriate legal formats; –researching and giving academic presentations; –participating in seminars).

6 6 Addressing the problem A short discipline-specific in-sessional course: - Reading skills using legal texts (with some practice) - Writing skills – introducing the two formats used in legal academic writing (but no time for practising these) - Presentation skills (but no time for all to practise) - Vocabulary for seminar discussions (very little time for practice)

7 7 Points which emerged… - IELTS 6.5: an inadequate level of language proficiency for a PG degree in Law; - The in-sessional vs the demands of the LLM: no contest. Students need to be able to focus exclusively on improving their English and study skills; - Students need time for practice as well as instruction if they are learn a skill.

8 8 An LLM Pre-sessional course for 2004 Designing a course to meet the students needs - Needs analysis - Aims and learning outcomes - Forms of assessment - Materials and Resources - Location

9 9 2010: LLM PS Course Content - Academic Reading (cases, statutes, legal texts) - Critical Thinking (initial sessions, but applied throughout) - Academic Listening and Note-taking (with 9 Law lectures) - Academic Writing (essays; summaries of cases) - Academic Speaking (researching and giving presentations; leading and participating in seminar discussions) - Grammar ; Pronunciation (in needs-based groups) - Independent Study/ Individual tutorials - Occasional talks (MCA; past students); Film Club Materials: developed in-house using cases, statutes and current legal topics in the news.

10 10 Assessment: a portfolio system - Assesses all four language skills independently and in integration - to identify students strength and weaknesses; - Clear assessment criteria for all assessed work, enabling students (and Law) to understand how marks were given and the total reached for each piece of work; - Motivates students to take control of their progress and work to do better throughout the course.

11 11 Passing the course - Weighting: coursework 60%; end of course assessment 40% - An overall pass of 70% on both coursework and the end of course assessment: 42/60 pass for coursework; 28/40 pass for end of course assessment. LLM PS Board results are sent to Law immediately after the Board, followed by individual reports on all students before the start of the academic year.

12 12 Evaluating the course (1) - The students - The tutors - The School of Law All written and spoken feedback positive and constructive: - The students recommend the course to their friends (and family members!) at home; - The tutors generally return each year and contribute new ideas and develop new materials; - The School of Law staff (HoS and lecturers) are enthusiastic about the course – and contribute significantly to its success.

13 13 Evaluating the course (2): LLM exam results Fewer students now fail the LLM than before: - Summer 2004: 19% of students failed one or more papers - Summer 2010: 9.7% of students failed one or more papers (only 3 of whom had taken the LLM PS) This comparison is all the more remarkable bearing in mind that, from October 2008, students take four rather than the previous three modules (together with the dissertation).

14 14 LLM Periodic Review 2009 The Review Panel: - praised the innovative LLM pre-sessional course - commended the high quality of student work - commented favourably on the LLM pass/fail ratio

15 15 Conclusions A discipline-specific pre-sessional course is only as good as the partnership between the receiving school and the ESAP (English for Specific Academic Purposes) tutors who will deliver it. A good discipline-specific pre-sessional course can enable students to begin the academic year with a high level of confidence - and each year, students who took the LLM PS tell us during the year how glad they are that they took the course, and they are happy to promote it. See: #pgr

16 16 However, such a course must: - be very well-designed (following a thorough needs analysis); - have sound materials (preferably created in-house); - incorporate authentic tasks (content lecturers can advise here); - have dedicated and creative ESAP tutors; - have a series of lectures/workshops (contributed by the receiving school) - have a fair and transparent system of assessment; …and ideally, it should be based in the school where the students will be registered.

17 17 Recommendations - ESAP tutors and content lecturers need to form a good working relationship; - Take time to plan and consider carefully how the course can best meet the students needs; - Decide on the best timing and duration of the course ; - Decide on a realistic entry level English language requirement (NB: IELTS 6.5 = Intermediate language user) and set entry scores for each skill.

18 18 The last word The last word should, perhaps, come from the students:


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