Using video glossaries to support the international student transition: A UK-China case study

Katie Szkornik


Previous studies have identified that a lack of academic English-language skills, and in particular, a lack of discipline-specific vocabulary remain a key challenge for the successful transition of international students to English-speaking Higher Education systems. However, most interventions designed to support international students in developing their academic English-language skills focus on remedial, post-transition approaches (e.g., English for Academic Purposes courses), as opposed to pre-transition interventions aimed at better preparing students for transition. To address this, we developed a bespoke, video glossary, to enable Chinese students to become more familiar with discipline-specific terminology in English, ahead their transition to study in the UK. The video glossary was developed within the context of a 3 + 1 articulation agreement between Keele and a Chinese partner institution, providing us with unique access to several cohorts of Chinese students ahead of their transition to study in the UK. Data shows that the majority of Chinese students chose to engage with the video glossary in order to improve their understanding of subject-specific terminology in English, to improve their general English language skills, to help them get better marks, and to help them feel more prepared for study in the UK. Students were also highly motivated to use the video glossary because it provided them with an opportunity to listen to the different accents of English, variations in pronunciation and, to a lesser extent, the body language and presenting styles of different Keele-based academics. To our knowledge, this is the first example of such a bespoke, video glossary being developed to support a specific academic programme in a UK Higher Education institution.