English 101: A Gateway To Success

UVic Global Community Newsletter: August 28, 2017

Nervous about university-level English?
Not sure if you're ready for complicated assignments?
English 101 might be for you.

Many international students new to the University of Victoria may not be aware of a small writing-intensive course called English 101. This is a course that will appeal most to international students whose first language is not English, but the class should also appeal to international students whose first language is English.

Why am I recommending this class? Let me count the ways:

First of all, English 101 is significantly smaller than other first year English classes. It is capped at 24 students, and in practice often has 18-20 students per section. This means 101 students can have more one-on-one time with their instructors, more opportunities for feedback, and more chances to interact with their peers in the class.

Secondly, English 101 focuses on sentence and paragraph-level writing. Students have many opportunities for practice and feedback, and no assignment is longer than 750 words or worth more than 15% of a student’s final grade. In other words, students have opportunities to hone their writing skills gradually while working their way toward assignments that will help them prepare for the more complicated writing tasks that come with upper level classes.

Thirdly, English 101 gives students a lot of time in class to practice writing. It has two short textbooks, meaning students are not burdened with time-consuming reading assignments. However, it is still worth 1.5 credit units (though it does not satisfy the Academic Writing Requirement (AWR)), and it does feature significant work on English grammar, both in class and via on line assignments. Thus, it offers thorough preparation for an AWR course while still being a credit course itself. Students who take it invariably say that they feel much more confident and self-assured about attempting an AWR course, and our data show that international students who take 101 almost never fail the subsequent AWR course they take.

Finally, it is worth noting that English 101 tends to have an extremely diverse student make up. For instance, the section I taught in Winter 2017 featured students from Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India, the United States, Japan, China, Korea, Hungary, Nepal, and Brazil, this in addition to about ten students who were from Canada. And even among the Canadians, there are First Nations students and French Canadian students mixed in with native speakers of English. In other words, if you have come to the University of Victoria partly in the hope of experiencing Canada’s characteristic multiculturalism, English 101 will allow you to immerse yourselves in a micro-world of multiculturalism. In its way, it is a very Canadian class.

Please contact me directly if you have any questions about this course. My name is Andrew Murray, and I am the English 101 Course Coordinator. I can be reached via email at admurray@uvic.ca and my office is in the Clearihue Building, room D236.