What's the difference between Lectures, Tutorials and Language Classes?

  • What are lectures for? Lectures are when all the students on a course come together, which means there may be as many as 300 students in some lectures (in English, for instance).

  • Lectures can do many different things, and at the beginning of a new course, your lecturer should tell you what he/she wants you to get out of them. Lectures can provide you with information, or introduce you to different ways of thinking about a subject. Most important of all, they're there to stimulate your interest in the subject. So DON'T spend the time trying to write it all down. Make selective notes on the key points (lecturers will often provide hand-outs or use Powerpoint slides to indicate what these are), on things that really interest you or puzzle you.

    The following link (from the Student Learning Services portfolio) suggests some strategies for note-taking: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sls/lectures.

  • What are tutorials for? Tutorials are your opportunity to raise any questions or problems you're having with the course material, including lectures, and to share your ideas about what you're studying. There'll only be around 15 students in the group, so there's plenty of chance for you to have your say. And it's likely that you'll be asked to give brief presentations at some point. The most important thing is that you prepare properly, doing the reading set for the week and/or any preparation that your tutor asks for. And be sure to take notes when you're preparing, whether you've been asked to make a presentation or not – it's much easier to talk in class if you've got something to refer to.

  • What are language classes for? Language classes aim to enhance your abilities in writing, reading, listening and speaking, so they take a variety of forms, ranging from explanation and practice of written structures to oral discussion and presentations. Most are small group classes, which means they will help you to get to know other students and your tutor. In order to get the most out of language classes, you'll need to prepare beforehand, take an active part in class and do follow-up work afterwards. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you're unsure of anything; the tutor is there to help your learning. If you want to make progress, what you do on your own will be at least as important, if not more important, than what you do in class. Your course documentation will tell you what to prepare from week to week and will include advice on how best to use your private study time, but don't hesitate to ask your tutor for further help.