New tools and struggles

Last week I really got my English learning going. I really put some effort into the academic reading and writing, and I can see where I need to focus on now. I wrote this bit in my drafts last week, and I will post it as it is because it gives a pretty good impression of the actual process of learning at that time.

“This week I have really started strong with the ALMS. I am taking part in both academic writing and reading groups, and they both seem to offer a great deal of possibilities for learning. I have been reading academic articles to try to reach a faster and a more efficient technique in reading them, so to say I’m learning skimming and scanning. There is also the bit about vocabulary which really does have the potential of giving a learner a tough time, since it can slow down reading a lot. What it does is turn away my attention from the entirety of the text and it’s subject to focusing on single phrases and words which I might struggle to understand in depth. This is a major thing for me, as I in general tend to have difficulties in switching my focus from a small perspective into a larger one and getting stuck in details.

Training the academic vocabulary is necessary, and through the support group I’ve found a great website to do it in, it’s called There are lists of words, quizzes, idioms, phrases and even a highlight-function which shows you the general academic words (or whatever you are looking for) in a text. A picture of how the highlight tool works (picture 1). The most used words are highlighted with grey, less common with orange and so on until very uncommon word would be highlighted with red. Below the highlight it also gives you a word list based on your text and from there you can look for the meanings of these words. I am in love with this tool.”

A screen capture of the academic highlighter tool.

Last week I also finished my argumentative essay and turned it in, but I have to say it wasn’t very good. I had struggles with it, and I couldn’t really get the structure right. I put plenty of hours in it and into the research for it as I read through a few different scientific articles on the subject. I got some feedback of it already and I am prepared to work on the essay this week according to the feedback. It is difficult, but that is what gives me motivation to do it, since difficulties are an almost certain way to learning something new.

Until next time!

What a ride

The last weeks have gone by too fast as I have been in a whirlwind of different courses, job applications and interviews. I do have to admit that waiting for results for all of the above mentioned have taken my focus away, so my coursework for the ALMS has been a little less I planned for. However I have been keeping an eye on anything, that is in English and put a different sort of a focus on it than before.

I have started to collect a list of words, which I have had to put through a translator to understand it. Sometimes they’re just words I didn’t realize are very familiar to me (i.e. quantitative = kvantitatiivinen), but even then I find it useful to have collected the word as it might be the spelling of it that puzzled me. As well I have taken off the subtitles I used to have on in Netflix which forces me to actually listen to what is going on, and I’m certain it does activate my English a bit.

As I have started this course I have simultaneously started to focus on any English I read, write, think or hear. My word list keeps on growing by the day and this week I’m going to get it to use – I have an academic paper due this Thursday. It will be the first actual paper I’ve written in English, but it is for the support group of this course – unsurprisingly the group’s name is Academic writing. The text should be about 600-700 words and it should be argumentative, which would give me a chance to train my academic English and the use of sources. I’m quite excited for it, since the teacher will be reviewing my work and giving feedback on it. I think I will write about protecting geodiversity and the importance of it, after all it is the basis all life on Earth needs. I found this project, called HardRock-project, which takes place in Finland and it is a part of the Metso-program in which i familiarised myself in during last semester.

Last week there was a night I went to meet the exchange students of Geography who are currently in Helsinki. We played board games in ‘Klusteri’, which is a hang-out space for all Kumpula campus’ student organisations. It was really nice and I had a blast, plus it was great social English learning even though it didn’t really give me any new English words to use. That’s the thing about social learning, it very much depends on who are you meeting and in what context whether it will bring some new perspectives to the language or not. With this I mean that while it is always beneficial to have social learning situations when learning a language, the conversations are not only learning tools that can be pushed to be just what one needs, especially not in a group setting. So in that sense you mostly just need to go with it and accept it might not be something to bring you on a completely new level of learning, but to keep you on the level you are in now. And learning about other cultures and habits should never be overlooked either, as it is something that has the power of giving one a great perspective on life in the modern, nearly global world we live in.

Funny to see how I started this post as this shameful “oh well, I haven’t done much..”-style but now I see it has been quite a lot. I do have to point out how much of a difference it makes to just be oriented to look at the language as a learning possibility every time I come across it!

The beginning and the plan

Two weeks ago the ALMS English course officially started and so far I’ve learned what it is all about and how the course is supposed to support my learning in areas where I most need improvement in. At this point I don’t feel that I need much exercise in easy talking or such, since I am quite happy with my casual discussion English skills. As much more important things to learn for me are academic writing and reading and maybe later debating and more advanced conversation options.

Based on these language goals I have drafted a plan for studying which includes all 108 hours of work these 4 credits include. The plan however is just a draft and it might differ somewhat from how the process will turn out to be in reality. However at least making the plan has already helped me find the points I should focus on and to try to discover new and convenient methods to reach my learning goals.

Here is my plan for the spring term ALMS course:

10 h administrative work

10 hours of academic reading

5 hours academic writing

20 hours support groups

5 hours social learning with friends

10 hours of reading Corrected 7.2.2023

10 hours of watching related documentaries

10 hours of learning vocabulary -science and geography especially

10 hours of movies and TV (no subtitles)

10 hours of grammar learning tasks

8 hours of reading news in English

Right now I feel good about the plan, but I am not sure whether the support groups will take as much time as I have planned them to do, but then I will put my time and efforts into other aspects of learning.

Until next time!