Take this online course before taking an IELTS exam

FutureLearn has a great range of courses for English speakers specialising in a wide array of fields i.e. from arts to nanotechnology.

This course on IELTS has just started. Feel free to join it if you are about to take IELTS soon!




University of Crete New Summer School

Some people dread holiday breaks claiming that breaking out of their routine can be really hard; they say holidays are “hard-work”. Others volunteer and start to work either as hobbyists, doing charity during vacation or trying to learn a new skill. But there are also those who put a lot of time and effort during holidays so as to take the next step forward without feeling out-of-place.

The thing is Crete is an ideal holiday destination, a safe place to be and excellent research hot spot. If you know you are going to take a Master’s degree in Chemistry (in English) and if you are a bit apprehensive about your language level and study skills, you should take this course. Academic English for Chemistry is designed for prospective post-graduate students who wish to get themselves acquainted with the language of Chemistry in English and learn scientific conventions in order to read and write scientific papers.


If you are not afraid of hard work and if you like to combine training whilst visiting a sun-drenched, vibrant and one of the most diverse and enchanting holiday destinations, then you should take this course. If interested, check out this link.

NB. A considerable amount of the content of this course is similar to that of English for Chemistry 1 and 2, English for Materials Science 1 and 2, and Academic English and Chemistry Terminology; hence, students that have previously taken these courses during the winter and spring semester should note that they have already gone through similar materials and skills.

Why Chemistry students should be given the chance to notice more scientific conventions (2016)

chemistry-image-to-use-in-pagesMany universities in Europe and Asia encourage their students to take up research writing classes in order to acquaint them with current scientific trends  and conventions. In most pre-sessional and in-sessional English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) classes, international students are introduced to formal academic English in accordance with the requirements of  IELTS examinations (Moore and Morton, 2015). However, given the lack of exposure to discipline-based texts in preparation for IELTS exam, teachers often ignore discipline-specific dos and don’ts which students are expected to notice and eventually use in order to communicate veracious scientific data in an appropriate way.

What is more, with discipline-based norms not being set in stone and varying from journal to journal even within the same discipline, undergraduate students are often confused. Coming from a learning environment that traditionally favours the duality principle of right or wrong, widely evident in secondary education around the world, students are often taken aback by the diversity of norms, practices and conventions featuring research papers. Not only are they shocked by the degree of hedging their ESP/EAP teachers use hesitating to commit themselves to anything but they are also dumbfounded by the sheer number of scientific journals within the same field-of-study or sub-discipline and a formidable amount of publications that often contradict each other in terms of content, methodology, evidence and style.

Yet, it is not just students that often feel bewildered by it all. EAP/ESP teachers are way out of their comfort zone when asked to provide generalisations when asked to confirm the normality of a linguistic feature. They often resort to published genre-related papers hoping to find some kind of direction. Not always aware of the very nature of the discourse they are to expose their students to, teachers may proudly show their students tables or research confirming a trend in a specific discipline making sure that they put emphasis on the sheer volume of exceptions, inconsistencies or deviations (Table 1). Then, in an attempt to facilitate student discipline acculturation, teachers find themselves vying for approval within an established status quo. Yet, by doing so, they  deprive their students of experiencing genres as “community resources which allow users to create and read texts with some assurance that they know what they are dealing with” (Hyland, 2015; 33), often misunderstanding an essential element of creativity scientific writing entails.

Table 1. Hyland 2015 Genre, discipline and identity


It takes a lot of courage and experience to resist the temptation of spoon-feeding students whilst avoiding losing face as an “expert”. As such, some ESP teachers, regardless of their background, tend to fall into the trap of being prescriptive in order to meet the expectations of their students, managers observing classes and peer-pressure. By doing so, they often defy the very purpose of the course they are supposed to be facilitating. They might also deprive their students from the mere realisation that what seems to be the status quo in their discipline is actually highly organic in nature and not static. It evolves constantly depending on various factors. In fact, this realisation may at first bewilder students but eventually it can provide an empowering framework for young scientists, a springboard for academic research publications.

This might explain why more and more ESP teachers recently put more emphasis on noticing genre-specific features and examining the various circumstances and contexts that may determine the choice of one feature over another. They do so, without being prescriptive and by allowing students to make up their own mind regarding what may constitute a “convention” or a current trend. In an attempt to provide even more chances of discipline acculturation, some teachers may adapt existing processes by encouraging students to take an active role of peer-reviewers instead of just being recipients of teacher feedback, hopefully becoming more accountable for their own learning and taking ownership of their own experience “by constant exposure to [their] discourse…[and] work[ing] out what norm the[ir] group favours” (Hyland, 2015;33). Besides, isn’t that what every single national framework for teaching science aspires to attain?


Hyland, K. (2015) Genre discipline and identity. Journal of English for academic Purposes 19, 32-43.

Moore, T. and Morton, J. (2005) Dimensions of difference: a comparison of university writing and IELTS writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 4, 43-66.



Argumentative essay question for chemistry students (2016)

Researchers have developed man-made diamonds that when in close proximity of radioactive field, can generate electric current as a nuclear battery. They claim to have paved the way to a new clean ‘Diamond-age’ of power generation as, despite their low power, their batteries appear to be highly efficient as well as emission and maintenance free.

Read more here or watch the following video and then answer the following question:

Some researchers claim that when it comes to energy-harvesting the risks posed by tampering with radioactivity and the energy required to build nuclear batteries cannot be offset by their potential benefits. Argue for or against this claim and provide up-to-date scientific evidence to support your stance.