I work as a teacher on the Taylors English Language Preparation (TELP) course at the Auckland campus of Taylors College. During my four years as a TELP teacher, I have seen many students pass through my classroom on their way to the Auckland Foundation Year (AFY) and university success.
What is TELP?
I am a firm believer that the language and academic skills taught on the TELP course help students immensely when they enter into further studies. Some examples of skills and aspects of language taught on the TELP course are:
- Understanding and using the most frequent academic vocabulary and grammatical forms
- Understanding of features of academic writing e.g. tone and register
- Understanding and using appropriate structure in academic writing
- Increasing reading speed and improving comprehension of academic texts
- Listening to longer talks and lectures and writing notes
- Research skills: finding information in source material and organising it in an essay
- Critical thinking and formulating a well-structured Argument
- TELP compared to General English
Many of the skills outlined above are not included in English language courses in the students’ home countries. Furthermore, none of these skills are covered in a general English course, which is more focussed on social English for day-to-day communication.
TELP prepares students better for university than IELTS
An IELTS course can help students prepare for the IELTS exam, but the TELP course also does this in addition to preparing for the rigours of a university course by including aspects such as research skills. By taking the TELP course, students not only improve their overall English, but develop an understanding of the educational values in the New Zealand university environment and how they differ from those in their country.
The importance of Critical Thinking
Perhaps the most important skill listed above is critical thinking. In my experience, many students, particularly in China, are taught to memorise theories and are tested on their ability to recall the ideas. The New Zealand educational environment is very different, placing more emphasis on a student’s ability to question these theories and develop his or her own. If students enter the AFY course directly, they may be ill-prepared for such tasks, whereas I am confident that students who have studied TELP are able to develop and support their own opinions.
Examples of students I have taught
One Chinese student, often struggled to complete reading tasks as her reading speed was too slow and she was often slowed by unfamiliar vocabulary. After teaching her some speed reading strategies and ways of dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary, her reading speed and comprehension improved dramatically. She is now in the AFY course and has found that increasing her reading speed has helped her to manage her course workload and complete her assignments on time.
Fundamentally, the TELP course allows students to try new things in a structured and supportive learning environment. If they do not get it right the first time, they have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes without it affecting their grades for university entrance.
Another student from Vietnam, was a very shy student when she first entered my class and also had difficulty speaking to the other students due to poor pronunciation. With continued practice during group work, class discussions and debates, she learnt how to express her ideas clearly and confidently, while improving her pronunciation. After successfully completing the AFY course, she is now half-way through her Accounting degree at a New Zealand university.
Take your time to study TELP and AFY will come
Many of the students I meet in the TELP classroom are in a hurry to progress to the AFY programme and their chosen university course. However, after only a short time, many of them are able to identify their own areas of weakness and address them. I have absolutely no doubt that the TELP course is beneficial for any student preparing for the AFY course.