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In this activity you will

  • listen to students' views on the potential language demands of OU courses, and some of the cultural differences they noticed when they began their study
  • reflect on your expectations of OU study and any challenges that it might bring. 

Watch the two video extracts

  • First reactions to OU study
  • Cultural aspects

Then answer the questions.  In order to save any of your replies, you must press 'Save' before moving on to the next page.  Once you have submitted all your answers, we offer a summary of points to think about.

Download video (MP4)

Kafula: When I first received my materials, it was a mixture of emotions. One, I was excited about all these books that I was going to read and all these new things that I was going to learn, but I was, it was also overwhelming because, you know, it was totally new, the language everything was very new.

Anna: I didn't feel confident because I didn't think I will have enough of the specific vocabulary needed to write essays and later to take exams.

Moungru: But I want to do it, so I thought it's time to start. Never too late, if I leave it much longer I probably never get there.

Anna: I changed my mind after a family friend, he's actually OU tutor, said that me and my husband shouldn't be apprehensive because he knew that if we really give it a go, we will pass it and we can go through with it.

Alexa: I was used to writing essays in French and not in English. The syntax is completely different, we have idioms that are completely different and English language I suppose has, I understand, twice as many words as in French and because of that, it was really difficult to envisage doing a course with the Open University.

Kafula: It was quite scary but, you know, quite interesting as well because you knew that at the end of all the books, you would have to do an assignment and you'll have known how well you've done and how much you need to improve or how much more you need to do.

Agron: I grew up in Albania and basically, the professor is the professor essentially. He's not somebody you call by name for example, you know, that I remember that being, you know, when I initially, you know, started studying in a particular course the, you know, the tutor introduced themselves as Hugh and I couldn't get myself to call him Hugh for a while and I noticed that other people have that.

Alexa: In France I don't think we get as much freedom in writing as you do in English writing. It seems like if you do not agree with what the corrector has to say, you might not get a good mark, regardless of whether you argued your case well or not.

Agron: I wasn't necessarily expected to agree with everything that the textbook pointed you to. It was a matter of actually, if you disagreed with something, try and use arguments that would point to a different conclusion, basically. I found that quite helpful and refreshing but it was something I didn't expect initially.

Alexa: The last tutorial I went to, as a matter of fact, the tutor did say, you know, "You don't have to agree necessarily with the theorists. You can disagree." And that's what she said to us. "Listen you can disagree", which is fabulous in a way that she gives us freedom to express ourselves as long as we do it successfully.

Moungru: I come from Taiwan and our tutor, our teacher tend to give example, plenty of example for student to understand the topics and with some handout to help student to understand it further if they cannot fulfil it in the class.

In England it tends to be more discussion and there is no example, so still down to student to perceive what the tutor meant or what the material meant. It sometimes can be quite daunting because you just don't know what they're talking about. Without example it's really hard. I think with a bit of example from tutor or the material itself, would be really helpful to a student who learn with OU as a second language.

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