Published 12 December 2022
During the pandemic, many international students have been studying online and offshore. For some of these students, it has been difficult to feel connected to UNSW and the wider Australian community and to build communication competencies and confidence.
To tackle this issue, the Student Success team launched myEnglish Week to help students enhance communication skills through student-centered, interactive workshops. The workshops provide a safe space where students can support one another and feel they belong to the UNSW community. Students said they loved the environment that allowed them to practise without being afraid to make mistakes and how it created a safe space for international students to talk and interact.
During 2022, 600 students participated with a 96% satisfaction rate.
Building lifelong communication skills
Since development of communication skills and language acquisition are lifelong processes and essential to students’ academic and career success, the Student Success team wanted to help instill a habit of continuous practice and improvement by recommending various programs and resources that students could access during their studies at UNSW. For this reason, many sessions feature guest speakers, mostly students, who share their university and career experiences with the attendees or promote relevant student associations and clubs such as Culture Café, Arc Goes To, PELE, Let’s CommUNIcate and the Public Speaking Society.
myEnglish Week sessions cover a range of useful topics such as academic writing, intercultural communication, oral presentations, grammar and vocabulary, participating in a group discussion, reading and listening strategies and English for career purposes. The program represents a successful collaboration between several teams, including expert facilitators from English Success, Academic Skills, UNSW Global, Arc, and Careers and Employability.
myEnglish Week was originally conducted online and moved to hybrid delivery as health restrictions eased. While the Student Success team were initially worried about the technical challenges of hybrid sessions, they discovered that when run well, the energy from the in-person participants can carry through online. They also found that the crucial elements for running engaging hybrid sessions were thoughtfully designed small-group discussion tasks in the classroom and in breakout rooms online, co-facilitators who could focus on supporting and engaging with the online participants and of course training and practice using the technology.
What do students like?
"I could build my confidence in speaking English", one student said.
"Lovely teachers and classmates. All of them offered helpful advice and tips", said another.
Many students have commented that active learning and connecting with other students are the best things about myEnglish Week. For example, Kok, a postgraduate student, began his studies in T3, 2021, but said he felt isolated at times. He said that participating in myEnglish Week really improved his confidence, not just in English language skills during the week, but importantly in joining activities afterwards. PhD student Bitadwi started studying remotely in 2021, but said before joining myEnglish Week she was unaware of the extensive English language support resources available to UNSW students.
"It was an opportunity to practice my oral English. During the training, we were free to have group discussions, which I found very useful," another student commented.
How can students join?
myEnglish Week is open to all UNSW students, irrespective of study program and English language level. As a free program outside the teaching and exam periods, it gives students a unique opportunity to interact, meet peers and enhance communication skills. Students can choose to attend whichever sessions they find relevant. myEnglish Week is run in the week before O-Week each term, and most sessions are delivered in hybrid mode.
If you know students who would benefit from the program, the Student Success team wants to hear from you! Please encourage students to take part and share this information with them. Students can hear from past participants and register for the next myEnglish Week by visiting the myEnglish Week website.