As an international student accepted into Cambridge, you will almost certainly have proved your English language proficiency through a test such as the IELTS, Princeton TOEFL or an advanced exam from the series offered by the University‚Äôs own syndicate. Success in such a test, though, will not necessarily equip you by itself to deal with every sort of task or encounter you come across in your academic and non–academic life in Cambridge. It is possible that the English you have to use on a daily basis in Britain is very different from the English you have learnt through studying it outside the country. International students face difficult, but by no means insuperable, challenges studying in a language that is not their own.


iCUSU hosts a series of rolling weekly classes, completely free of charge, aimed to some degree at easing students’ socialisation into an English–language environment, but principally at helping you to lift the level of your own academic English. The class is informal and provides an opportunity to interact with fellow students as well as an instructor. In class, the teacher gets to grips with individuals’ writing and introduces learners to a range of strategies suitable for directing their own learning. Students will benefit most from the course by making a commitment to attending over a process of months or even years. You can visit the iCUSU website for more information.

Before coming to Cambridge

Studying in Cambridge is a great way to improve your English, but don’t wait until you get here to start working on it. Try meeting English–speaking people in your home country before you leave, watch films in English, and read English newspapers and magazines on the Internet. If in doubt about your language skills, why not take a preparation course in English in your home country?

In general, you learn through interacting, without necessarily being aware either that you are learning or that you are making mistakes. Furthermore, it is a misconception to suppose that there is a very specific form of academic English you need for your studies, and that exposure to other forms of spoken and written language will not bring many benefits to your own academic writing; this is completely to the contrary. More exposure often means a richer vocabulary and better flexibility in the command of the English language.