What is common to the words Philip,
Melbourne, elephant, table, and love?
They are all nouns, words which are the central building blocks of English. It’s next to impossible to avoid nouns when using English, because we need them to refer to the subject of a sentence. A noun can refer to a person, a place, an animal, a thing, or an idea. Here are some quick explanations to help you understand some commonly used types of nouns.
Countable and uncountable
In English, certain nouns are treated as separate items and so
can be counted. For instance, we can count words such as camera (one camera, two cameras,
three cameras, etc.), pen, book,
and girl. We call such words
countable nouns. They can appear in two forms – singular or plural. When a
countable noun is in singular form, the indefinite article (a/an) is usually
used before it.
Could I please have a pen? (Not Could I please have pen?)
Uncountable nouns, on the other hand, cannot be treated as
separate objects or items, as they are seen as a whole. Some examples of
uncountable nouns are milk, juice, homework, luggage, advice, snow, feedback, and information. Naturally, such words are
not used in plural form (milks,
juices, homeworks, feedbacks).
Also, the indefinite article (a/an) does not appear before uncountable nouns.
Could I please get some advice? (Not Could I please get an advice?)
A collective noun is a word that we use to talk about a
collection of people, animals, things, etc. as a single group. The words audience, family, team, police, orchestra, and council are
all examples of collective nouns. One problem that learners face is to decide
what verb to add after a collective noun – singular or plural. In British
English, most collective nouns can be followed by the singular or plural verb,
depending on the context. If in doubt, it’s best to consult a dictionary.
The next time you come across a new noun, try to understand what
type it is. All good dictionaries list such information.
In a previous post, Christopher Connor, Assistant Dean of Graduate Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, shared with some of the resources many U.S. colleges offer their students to prepare them for work. This week we continue our interview, in which he gives us more information on the topic.
Q: When students finish their studies, what is legally available to students who wish to work? A: Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than three months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to work for one year.
Q: What is STEM OPT and how can international students qualify for it? A: STEMOPT is a 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization available to F-1 students who graduated with U.S. degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. It is important for students to double check with programs they are applying to whether their program is eligible for STEM OPT as it may not always be clear.
Q: Talk about the importance of a resume and cover letter in the job/internship search for international students? A: Having a well thought out, clear concise resume and cover letter that appropriately showcases and quantifies their abilities is extremely important. The goal is to be recognized with a combination of translatable skills that will differentiate from other students you are in competition with.
Q: When there are jobs/internship fairs on campus, what tips would you suggest students take on board to improve their chances of finding a position? A: It is important for students to keep in mind that the job search is many cases a relationship building process. Let the company representative talk (but listen) and pick pieces of “common ground” knowledge out of the conversation.. Use the “common ground” to your advantage. Listening is a key ingredient to these interactions.
Q: In your experience, how can international students make themselves standout most when beginning the job search? A: International students should leverage any resources or events that are made available to them to help promote professional and personal growth. Students should attend job fairs and networking events well before they are ready to actively begin their job search.
Q: Do you feel that prospective employers value what international students can offer their companies? A: Employers are looking to hire the best qualified candidates for potions and there is a known skills gap for countless positions in the US. Given the gap, International students help bridge that gap by offering many benefits to companies.
Q: Interviews can make or break an international student’s chances of securing their dream job. What advice would you give them as they prepare for this important step? A: Practice, practice, practice. Make sure to leverage free services such as mock interviews. The more practice you have, the better you will do when it matters most.
Q: If students who are looking to develop a plan B for work after graduation (if not in the U.S.), what would you suggest would be good first step? A: Keep your options opened. This includes looking not only in the US but in other countries for opportunities including your home country. Starting your career somewhere can help you obtain valuable experience to increase your future career mobility.
For many prospective international students considering the United States for higher education, the opportunities for work experience in their field of study is often an important consideration. This month we take a hard look at how U.S. colleges and universities are preparing their international students for work. Christopher Connor, Assistant Dean of Graduate Education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, shares what is possible for international students in the United States.
Q: Describe your institution in 5 words? A: Premier global innovative research university
Q: For what is your institution best known overseas? A: Students and faculty from across the globe come to our school to conduct high-impact original research in science and engineering, to become leaders in engineering disciplines and related fields. Our School also offers the SEAS 360 Professional Development program, a unique cost free professional development training for our undergraduate and graduate students to better prepare them for the workforce.
Q: What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? A: – Industrial Engineering – Civil Engineering – Chemical Engineering – Aerospace Engineering – Computer Science/Computer Engineering
Q: What are the top 5 countries represented at your college/How international is your institution? A: India, China, Iran, Taiwan, and S. Korea.
Q: How does your institution use IELTS in the admissions process? How valuable a tool is it in evaluating prospective students? A: Our university accepts IELTS for English Language proficiency and requires a minimum 6.5 with no sub score below 6.0. Students meeting this criteria have been successful in completing their graduate studies.
International student work-related questions
Q: What resources are generally available on-campus for students to help prepare them for work?
Many colleges and universities in the U.S. have Career Services offices that offer assistance with:
Power or Soft Skill Development – Many colleges and universities and in some cases individual academic schools/programs offer their students cost-free workshops to develop soft skills or what employers have not deemed “power skills.” In some cases students may even be able to obtain an additional credential such as a certificate or a micro badge to include on their resume.
Making – Self assessment tools to examine your values, personality,
interests and abilities and making suggestions on which type of careers you
might be best suited for.
Resume and Cover
Letter Writing – career services offices help students write their resumes
and cover letters. Additionally, they conduct workshops and provide one-on-one
sessions during which they critique resumes and cover letters.
Interviewing – Campus career offices usually sponsor workshops to help students learn how to present themselves well in a job interview, from what to wear, to what questions to expect.
Recruiting – Career
services offices host job fairs during which employers visit the campus to
recruit students who are about to graduate. The offices sometimes maintain
student files containing letters of recommendation from faculty, which they can
then forward to potential employers and graduate schools upon the student’s
Networking – Career services can also help students find networking events, where they can connect with professionals in their potential career.
Internships – Many academic units may have their own separate office that handles internships but career services offices also often work hand-in-hand with companies seeking college interns and internship advisers.
Q: As it stands now, what do international students in the U.S. have available to them to work in their field during studies? A: US colleges and universities may have funding research, teaching or student assistantship positions available. Additionally, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is temporary employment authorization for F-1 visa non-immigrant foreign students in the United States while enrolled in a college-level degree program. CPT permission is granted through a college or universities International Students Office or equivalent upon approval of advisor, based on the regulations established by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Reading comprehension is a key language ability that determines
how much of a text an individual understands when they go through it. Not
surprisingly, most language tests assess this skill.
Here’s what you can expect in the IELTS Reading section.
The Reading section in IELTS is designed to test a range of skills that we employ to read various kinds of text and derive meaning. This includes forming a general understanding of a long text, looking for specific details (e.g. a date, figure), identifying the writer’s opinion or attitudes, and following how an argument develops.
In both IELTS tests, Academic and General Training, candidates receive three sections to read, each accompanied by a set of questions. Texts are normally adapted from books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, and tend to be of general interest. So, no specialist knowledge is required to understand them.
One key difference between the two tests is that the IELTS General Training Reading section is simpler, as it focuses mostly on basic survival skills.
The Reading section in IELTS lasts 60 minutes, and test takers are recommended to spend 20 minutes per section. Unlike IELTS Listening, no extra time is given to transfer answers, so they have to be written directly on to the answer sheet. Managing time can be tricky here, as candidates aren’t really told when to begin or end each section.
A total of 40 questions need to be answered in the Reading section. A variety of question types is used so that the difficulty level remains uniform across test sessions. Answers tend to be short, with most of them being a word or short phrase. Sometimes, a letter or number will do.
Each correct answer is worth one mark. A raw score out of 40 is calculated and later converted to the IELTS 9-band scale using a conversion table. Scores are reported in whole (e.g. 6, 7, 8) and half bands (e.g. 6.5, 7.5, 8.5). To score well in IELTS Reading, see to it that you read up on the format and spend enough time understanding the various question types. Good luck!
In a previous blog post on the topic, we identified two benefits
of picking up a part-time job while at university: improving language ability
and getting to know more people.
Here are some more reasons why working part-time can be good for
Becoming culturally aware
When living abroad, especially in a country whose culture is quite
different to yours, there could be umpteen ways in which your words or actions
may upset those around you. This is because what is seen as normal behaviour in
your country may be considered inappropriate in another society.
One of the quickest ways to improve cultural awareness is by being
in a cosmopolitan work environment, where you get to observe people from other cultures
first-hand. Often work stress brings out the worst in people, highlighting
differences in how cultures cope with tricky situations. You get to know why
different people behave the way they do. In the long run, this will enable you
to respond appropriately to cultural differences by being more sensitive to
Now, there’s no doubt that most universities too have diverse
international student communities. However, students often confine themselves
to small groups which make them feel comfortable. The workplace, therefore, is
a much better place to learn about cultures, as it forces you to work with all
kinds of people, even those whose behaviour you might find odd or annoying at
Getting introduced to the
world of work
Working part-time is a great way of getting to know the world of
work and the challenges it throws up, before formally beginning your career.
For one thing, you become aware of various do’s and don’ts when working for a
business. As well as this, you also learn to deal with office politics, which
is an absolute must to survive as an employee. And if you don’t happen to enjoy
certain kinds of part-time work, at least you’d know what to avoid later on in
Overall, part-time work experience is invaluable, as it helps
you understand yourself as well as the workplace better. So, when such opportunities
come your way, make sure you grab them with both hands.
In this View from Campus blog post, Stefano Papaleo, Director of Undergraduate Admission at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, shares his best advice for international students who are beginning their search for the right college or university. When confronted with the enormous range of options for higher education in the U.S., it is easy to become overwhelmed. Finding that right institution where you wish to study, can be compared to the difficulty of finding a needle in a haystack. No easy task. Here are some helpful tips from Mr. Papaleo.
Q. How would you describe your institution in 5 words? A. International, Individualized, Innovative, Well-Placed, Safe
Q. For what is your institution best known overseas? A. For being one of the most international universities in the country and for providing excellent services to international students
Q. What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? A. Undergrad: International Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Sports Management, Psychology, Biology.
Grad: MBA Marketing, MBA Financial Valuation and Investment, MS Applied Psychology, MBA International Business Management, MA Communication and Media.
Q. What are the top 5 countries represented at your college? A. Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and China.
Q. How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process? A. minimum of 6.0 is required for undergraduate admission, and a minimum of 6.5 is required for graduate admission.
Q. What is the most significant challenge most international students have when first considering the U.S. for post-secondary education? A. I believe it is a very complicated system with an even more complicated admission process. For someone without the help of a high school counselor or an educational consultant it is very hard to navigate the system.
Q. How far ahead should students start the planning process if they are planning to come to the U.S. for study? A. No later than the equivalent of their junior year in high school.
Q. How should prospective students begin their research when considering higher education in the United States? A. If they have no help in the process they should look at online resources and guides that can help them narrow their choices.
Q. If a student needs help narrowing down their choices of schools, where can they turn for assistance? A. If they do not attend an international high school with an experienced high school counselor it is not very easy. EducationUSA can help. There are also several educational consultants around the world that can guide the students for a fee.
Q. There are a lot of possible tests international students might need to take. How can students find out which ones they must / should take for each institution? A. From the universities’ websites
Looking for a part-time job is one of the very first tasks that
international students take on once they set foot on foreign soil. For many, it
generates a handy income that can go some way towards helping them meet their
expenses. Some use it to fund activities which they think are beyond their
limited student budget.
However, if you thought money was the only motive behind this,
think again. Even those with the means to put themselves through college comfortably
apply for part-time vacancies. Wondering why?
Here are some pluses of working part-time as a university
Improving language skills
As a foreign student, the chances are you may not be fluent in
the local language, whether it is English, German, French, or Polish. Being at
the workplace presents the ideal opportunity to hone your language skills, as it
is usually full of native speakers.
There’s enough evidence to suggest that putting yourself in
real-life situations and forcing yourself to communicate is perhaps the best
way to learn a foreign language that you barely know. When you are thrown in at
the deep end, you may struggle initially but will very quickly learn to cope.
That way, you learn a language faster than you would ever manage in a
Meeting new people
Undergraduate or postgraduate students make up a sizeable proportion
of part-timers employed by businesses such as pubs, restaurants, supermarkets,
and call centres. So, if you’re feeling all lonely in a new country, your
workplace may be the best place to start looking for like-minded people. As
many among them may be facing the very same challenges as you, it becomes easier
to connect with one another. What’s more, mates from work are usually more fun,
as you tend to forget academic pressures in their company.
And don’t be surprised if some of these friendships last a
lifetime. Many international students continue staying in touch with their
foreign friends even years after returning to their country.
We’ll be back soon with more on the benefits of working
part-time while at university.