Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Start off strong

Language skills

Articles in journals, written summaries of oral arguments, medical histories, policy documents and research reports. These are just some of the types of text that are standard fare in various programmes. During your studies, you will learn exactly how you to tackle texts like these, of course, but a solid language foundation is very important in higher education. So prepare well for this.

That is why we recommend doing a lot of reading this summer! Read the newspaper, background articles, a good novel or a biography. Read the first few chapters of one of the textbooks you have already received. Read Sports Illustrated, Vogue or Focus Magazine. It does not matter what, just read!

Naturally, we understand that you know how to read, but reading in higher professional education is essentially different to the kind of reading you are used to. The texts you have to read are often longer and there are more of them, so you need to plan your reading well. Moreover, the themes are often more difficult and abstract compared to what you might be used to, and you need to think about them more. It is therefore good if you approach the texts actively.

Before you start reading a text, think about what precisely you want to know. That is important, because it defines your reading goal. If you want to know in what year the telescope was invented, you will read the text differently than if you want to know how the invention of the microscope affected the state of world health. Your goal affects the way you read.

Are you only in search of quick facts, or do you simply want to get a quick picture of the structure or content of the text? In either case, a quick reading will be enough (not to be confused with speed reading, which we discuss below). However, if you really need to dive deeper into the content, a quick read-through is not enough. Instead, you will need to take a more active approach. Find out how by watching this short film. You can activate English subtitles under ‘Settings’.

Also, read the flyer ‘Smart ideas for reading texts’.

Speed reading is the collective name for various techniques that let your eyes scan the words faster, while still understanding what you are reading. It is a technique you can practice (in our Speed Reading workshop, for instance), but it does not work for everyone. So what does work for everyone?

  • Read a lot. Ensure that your brain is used to processing longer texts and that your eye muscles are well trained. The more you read, the faster you will be able to do so. Reading more also increases your command of terminology.
  • Work on your vocabulary. The more words you know and the more frequently you have come across them, the faster you will recognise them during your reading and the less trouble your brain will have finding the right meaning. When you encounter unfamiliar words during reading, note them down and check their meaning.

You can find out more about speed reading on this website.

You will be writing many texts during your studies. It is therefore important for you to produce good content, but the way you shape and present your text is also very important. This involves things like the structure of the text, your choice of words and your sentence structure, as well as your grammar, especially your use of verb tenses.

The courses English Grammar I and II can help you to write better texts.

In the coming years, you will be writing a lot at higher professional education level. There are differences between the written products that you submitted in your previous education and the written products you will create in the context of higher professional education.

What are the differences in the written products?

  • The requirements are stricter and more numerous.
  • The written products are more complex.
  • You work more independently.
  • You need to think more deductively (in other words, based on a theory, literature and/or an assumption).
  • You need to use a lot of specialist literature.

To help you write at this level, AUAS offers the workshop English Writing.

  • I write reports that are several pages long.
  • I observe my programme’s guidelines regarding structure, and I ensure a suitable and attractive appearance.
  • I formulate concisely and smoothly, and I tailor my report to the target group.
  • I provide full source references in accordance with the guidelines.
  • Use a timer when reading. Try to challenge yourself to read texts faster and faster.
  • When you encounter unfamiliar words, draw on the context. Do not refer to your dictionary too often. You can often understand words from the context. By forcing yourself to understand the meaning of words based on the context, it becomes easier to remember these words.

Published by  Student Affairs 11 August 2020