(Reviewed Fall 2009)
Reviewer: Jerry Gagnon
Recommendation: Strongly recommended
The website of The Learning Center of the University of New South Wales offers “academic skills support” for UNSW students, while the online component is available to all in the academic community. While the support materials aren’t aimed specifically at TESOL teachers or ESL students, they’re still a reliable resource for those seeking information on such subjects as essay writing, plagiarism, citations, grammar and mechanics, and so on. Besides being accurate and well-written (!), the materials are designed to have visual appeal, and can be downloaded and printed out for individual use. Additionally, the site invites new and returning UNSW students to visit the modules “mystart” and “restart” for tips on improving their overall academic skills. Unfortunately, I found that this section isn’t accessible to those who aren’t affiliated with UNSW. The site was copyrighted by the university in 2005 and updated on 2/11/10, so the materials are quite timely.
Having first discovered this site during a Google search for information on paraphrasing, I found the support materials to be cogent and well-presented. On my next visit, I was happy to find a wide range of topics, including exam skills, research and note taking, postgraduate writing, thesis proposals, science and engineering writing, and oral presentations, among others. It was readily apparent that the materials are at least on the level with those of the Owl Purdue Writing Lab of Purdue University. Of particular interest is the section on exam taking skills, which is always a welcome topic with ESL students who face a barrage of high-stakes tests. Advanced ESL students who are seeking tips on writing research papers and theses should also find this site helpful, and teachers may want to refer students here for extra work. In addition, the oral presentation section offers many handy pointers that beginning teachers will find encouraging.
The Center, which is helmed by Dr. Due Starfield, has won several prestigious awards and citations for excellence, which I won’t cite here. I strongly recommend this site, without reservations, and believe that it offers some excellent ideas that CSUEB may want to implement, specifically the materials on note taking and exam preparation.
Subject Headings: ESL students, college writing, study skills