Academic language development
Acceptance into university is the start of your academic language development. Academic language - the language you will be required to understand (when listening and reading) and produce (in writing and speaking) at university — has special features which makes it different from the language used in other contexts. It is important to understand that your language development, especially your disciplinary language development, is an ongoing process which is crucial for your academic success and for your employment opportunities.
OPELA screening tool
UTS Science uses the Online Post Enrolment Language Assessment (OPELA) screening tool in a number of its undergraduate and postgraduate coursework degrees. To help best prepare you for commencing a science degree at UTS you will undertake an OPELA at the start of this coming session.
OPELA is not a test. Undertaking OPELA provides you with a snapshot of your current academic language competence and creates an awareness of the need to build literacy specific to your discipline.
It is a screening tool whose primary purpose is to help us determine the level of literacy support best suited to you. The OPELA assessment will be completed during the first week of classes.
Learn more in this short video.
Q. Why do I need to sit OPELA?
A. Throughout your degree you will develop and refine academic language. Academic language is the language that you are required to understand and produce at university, and most importantly, an attribute that your post-university employees expect you to have acquired during your time at UTS. Even though you may have studied English previously, academic language has distinct features which make it different from the language used in other contexts. It is important to understand that disciplinary language development is an ongoing process and is crucial for your academic success and to maximise your employment opportunities.
Q. How do I complete OPELA?
A. The OPELA is completed online in scheduled PSP class time. You are not required to provide hand-written responses and will be provided with full instructions for completing the OPELA during class. The OPELA tasks are designed to measure the English language proficiency of a wide range of students. Do not feel discouraged if you cannot finish all the tasks in the time limit. However, do complete as much of the work as you can in the time allocated.
Q. What happens after I complete the OPELA?
A. Once you complete the task, your results will be reviewed by your Subject Coordinator and Teaching Associates, who will then determine an appropriate level of literacy support for you. You will also receive your OPELA . The assessment will tell you if your academic English language skills are at a level which provides sound general foundations for university study or if your academic language could be improved. Thus the OPELA will help you to successfully manage your future studies.
Q. Is the OPELA a part of my formal assessment for PSP?
A. The results of this screening do not count towards your final results for PSP and your OPELA assessment will not appear on your academic transcript. Rather, the OPELA is an English language-screening tool designed to determine your level of academic language and any literacy support that you may need to be successful in your chosen Science course.
Q. I am in a combined degree — do I need to undertake OPELA more than once?
Q. I have a disability which means I may not be able to undertake OPELA, or it may impact my OPELA result. What should I do?
A. Please register with the UTS Accessibility Service. SNS will then be able to refer you to the appropriate alternative arrangements.
If you have any queries, contact:
Science Administration Team
Telephone: +61 (02) 9514 1759/2250
We wish you all the best, and again, congratulations on your acceptance into UTS:Science