August 2015 Bulletin: SALC Materials and Support for Learners

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Bulletin 3: August 2015. SALC Materials and Support for Learners

Students come to the SALC for different reasons. For example, some students just want to be part of the community and be in an English speaking environment. Other students have specific language goals, for example to improve their TOEFL score or work on their listening skills. Others come to watch movies, listen to music or read magazines just for enjoyment. Others use it as a place to do their homework. Of course, students are welcome to do all of these things in the SALC, but this blog post focuses on ways in which we support learners who have specific language learning goals. We’ll show examples by thinking about two of our regular SALC users (their names have been changed).

Case Studies

  1. Ryota

Ryota is a sophomore student in the English department. He wants to increase his *IELTS score in order to apply for a study abroad program next year. The SALC supports Ryota in many ways:

  • He can borrow IELTS study materials from the “Exam” Section.
  • He can try a practice test that learning advisors have prepared.
  • He can talk to a learning advisor in order to plan his study. Many students meet with learning advisors every week to discuss their strategies and progress.
  • He can attend the Thursday lunchtime IELTS Speaking Community to practice the speaking part of the test and exchange tips with other students and learning advisors.
  • He can sign up for the optional (non-credit) Saturday writing class offered by a learning advisor.
  • He can take a SALC module or SALC credit course and implement a plan in a structured way.
  • He can use other general resources in the SALC, for example, speed reading texts in the “Reading” section, academic listening texts in the “Listening” section, books on grammar and vocabulary, general knowledge texts in the “Study Abroad” section
  • He can attend a SALC workshop related to academic skills.
  • He can take a free online practice test.

*Similar support is also available to students taking other tests.

2. Riana

Riana is a freshman student in the Spanish department. She wants to increase her English skills as well as her Spanish skills and has identified listening as her weak point in English. In particular, she would like to be able to understand casual conversations she has with exchange students and teachers. There are many ways in which Riana can get support from the SALC:

  • She can talk to a learning advisor and discuss different strategies and resources  to improve her listening.
  • She can use materials in the “Speaking” and “Listening” sections of the SALC. There are many recordings of casual conversations organised by topic.
  • She can try out one of the listening links from the elisalc.org website.
  • She can try out one of the iPad app recommendations.
  • She can take a SALC module or SALC credit course and implement a plan in a structured way.
  • She can check out a movie or drama and try some activities (there are worksheets and ideas in the “Learning with Movies” section).
  • She can use other general resources in the SALC that will help her listening, for example, vocabulary books, magazines with current topics in them (with audio CDs) from the “Reading” section, and general knowledge texts in the “Study Abroad” section.
  • She can attend a SALC workshop related to listening.
  • She can meet people and practice casual conversations in the ELI Lounge or Practice Centre
  • She can attend a SALC event such as the monthly tea party as a way to meet people and practice English with students, teachers and learning advisors in a relaxed environment.

What about learners without specific goals?

Research shows that having a specific (and realistic!) goal increases the chances of achieving high language proficiency. In addition, having a goal is helpful for keeping motivation high. For students who do not have a specific goal, they are encouraged to talk to learning advisors. Learning advisors can help them to think about their broader dreams and life goals and then evaluate their needs in order to set some achievable learning goals.

How are SALC materials changing?
The SALC has around 11,000 materials which aim to cater for learners with different interests, proficiency levels, learning preferences, and language goals. We have noticed a gradual shift in preferences to electronic resources, so we are currently auditing our print collection in order to trim it before moving to Building 8 in 2017. We will also gradually increase our digital resources in line with current trends and learner preferences.