Course Feedback (native English)

Feedback from a native English-speaking PhD student.


Personally, I enjoyed the humor in every lesson that I attended. I learnt not only from the theoretical perspective but also on the practical application of every topic. Adrian is one of the best native English teachers that I have ever come across and the way he presents his lessons is fascinating. He has a talent of bringing the best out of someone’s weakness and before the course, I did not know much on how to approach a diverse group of audience. Through his teachings, my presentation skills, stage management skills and articulation of ideas tremendously improved. At the end of the course, it was evident that most of the students had a sense of what needs to be done at a particular time of presentation.
I used to write scientific papers with no much knowledge on how best I could capture the attention of the readers, but through the topic on article writing, I became more confident on what to put in the paper and what not to include. For instance, I found Adrian’s rule on “Delete-Delete-Cut-Cut” being effective in reducing redundancy of the paper and therefore improving its quality. Lastly, his take on “Have fun in doing your work…don’t take it too seriously” made me to realize that I need to have passion in all that I do and with this passion, I can conquer every corner of my academic life.

Gilbert Koskey, PhD student, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, 2019


Through the vast set of skills that I gained during this course, I am now more confident in presenting my research work. I have learnt the art of reducing redundancy and putting more focus on what is important when writing scientific papers. Many of the things I learnt in this course are also applicable in my day to day social life and now I approach matters in a more dynamic way.

Blessing Mhlanga, PhD student, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, 2019.


I think the reasons I really enjoyed your class – despite speaking English as a first language and having had various training courses previously – were:

  • the informal, engaging and interactive model;
  • the very practical and example-led approach, rather than theoretical;
  • the perspective of how non-native speakers learn and express English.

The parts which were of most use to me personally were about communicating to non-native speakers, and how difficult it is for them to understand the speech patterns and word choices of native speakers. You had some nice examples of false friends and other confusing elements which helped bring this to life. For PhDs who will be presenting at international conferences this is really useful.

The sessions on writing for academic papers were really useful, again with great examples to bring this to life. This is obviously be very important for the PhD students – particularly on the need for concision (something I still have a lot to work on!). Also, the very practical tips about writing (and speaking) e.g. have sentences of varying length to avoid monotony,

The exercises about showing empathy in emails and communication with others were useful. I have noticed when working with others in previous roles that many people really don’t get this right. This is particularly true for people new to the professional world, and not just for non-native speakers.

Regarding the presentations part, I found the following particularly useful

  • The input on slide design. I’ve had various sessions on giving presentations before, which always almost exclusively focus on one’s speaking style and manner and not on the slides themselves. I am very aware of my weaknesses in public speaking, but much less clear on how the visual element can be most effectively delivered.
  • The actual practice and feedback from the group – as a way to see how others do things and get ideas to improve one own style as much as for the feedback itself.

Kendall Jamieson Gilmore, PhD student, Scuola Sant’Anna Superiore, November 2018