Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in Physics
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
A foreign language, final examination
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (16 hours)


Entry level

No special language skills and competence are required beyond those provided by any 5-year high school.
Entry level that learners are expected to have at the beginning of the course: A2/A2+ (pre-intermediate) - ref. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
The intermediate course is directed to participants whose level of language proficiency is A2 and above.
Participants who will be accepted in this program are expected to be able to do the following - in terms of general English - before accessing the course:

-understanding sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment)
-communicating in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
-describing in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Students with a lower level will not be admitted to the course or will be admitted subject to obtaining an A2/B1 level while attending the course.

Each student’s entry level will be assessed through a placement test. Students who wish to be admitted to the course must take the placement test.

Placement Test

To apply for the placement test students must send an email to mariagabriella.bossi@uninsubria.it specifying:

-Their Surname and Name
-Their student ID
-Their email address
-Possibly, their mobile phone number
-Their department and year (specifying if “triennale” or “magistrale”)

The Placement Test is administered at the premises of Università dell’Insubria in via Valleggio, Como. It is important that applicants come on the scheduled date.

The scheduled testing date will be defined based on the applicants’ needs. Students will be informed on the test date per email.

Testing takes approximately 3 hours and focuses on: grammar (multiple choice) and listening comprehension (video).

Final Examination: 

• Assessment of Learning Outcomes

1.Continuous assessment of active participation in class activities and of performance improvement.
2.Continuous assessment of written/oral assignments (Homework).
3.Final test.

To have access to the final test students must:

- attend at least 75% of the scheduled lessons,
- actively participate in class activities,
- produce all required assignments (homework) while undertaking to study and properly apply the rules and linguistic elements illustrated and discussed throughout the course. Homework must be mandatory handed in within the established deadline.

Attendance is compulsory.

Student who should exceed the established (25%) absence threshold will not be admitted to the final test.
Students who have not exceeded the absence threshold, but haven’t produced the required homework (or have handed in only poorly elaborated homework) and/or haven’t actively participated in the class activities, will not be admitted to the final test.

Final test

Registration is mandatory (through the University Webpage).
The testing session lasts approximately 3 hours.
The examination will test the language competence acquired by the students and their ability to understand and interpret written and spoken English and to write a clear and grammatical text.

The test may include:
-grammar tests (no multiple choice)
-listening and reading comprehension (on topics covered during the course)
-writing practice test.

Voto Finale

• Aims and expected learning outcomes

English - Intermediate Level for Students in Science


The prime aim of the course is to help students consolidate their knowledge of English grammar at intermediate level and overcome some of the linguistic difficulties involved in using English in communicative contexts. The focus of the syllabus is the acquisition and improvement of listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities. The syllabus covers topics related to the students’ course of study and to the typical communication activities they might be required to perform. Special attention is paid to the purpose for which English is being studied (to be used in science departments/studies).

Content and aims of the course are matched to the requirements of DISAT Departments and of the relevant learners, i.e. to their entry level. The course is designed to meet the needs of those students who still have limited language competence and skills. It aims to foster the development of students' language skills in order to equip them with the English competence required for university-level education.

Target Level: B1+/B2 Independent user

•B1 - Threshold or intermediate

-Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters.
-Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
-Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
-Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

•B2 - Vantage or upper intermediate

-Can understand the main ideas and topics in oral interactions and of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization
- Can understand science-related language when listened to in lectures and academic settings.
- Can read articles and reports in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints.
-Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction quite possible without strain for either party.
- Express their opinions and stand up for an argument orally.
- Briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
-Explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
-Can produce clear, detailed text on a range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Considering the foregoing, the course specially aims to help students:

-develop an intermediate-level language competence (grammar), while at the same time focusing on special structures of English for Scientists; in this respect, gain awareness of relevant areas of grammar and language structures (appropriate use of articles, tenses, phrases, nouns, syntax; words);
-understand and use spoken English for practical communication;
-demonstrate both global and detailed understanding of a variety of written texts;
-produce clear, concise and grammatical English that allows for a clear conveyance of meaning;
-receive and transmit information accurately and efficiently;
-improve their ability to understand and use English as might be required or encountered in university education.


The content of the course may be modified to meet the needs of the participating students.


Special attention is given to the application of the rudiments of grammar and of the language patterns, structures and elements that are commonly used in scientific communication. For reading, listening and communication activities specialized articles/videos of medium difficulty are selected. Scientific-informative topics might be related to current events.

Learning and practice activities are designed to develop the students’ skills and performance in the following areas:

-The use of dictionaries
-Specifications, Dimensions and features: how to report them and how to ask about them
-How to simplify structures
-Defining and explaining: sentence patterns, phrases, and tenses
-Reporting, describing, expressing (e.g. hypothesis)
-Using cause and effect language: actions and results language patterns

More specifically:

Describing processes and developments, equipment and methods, degrees of certainty, a sequence of events.
Understanding explicitly stated information, graphs, tables etc.
Following an argument
Understanding relations within a sentence and between the parts of a text through lexical and grammatical cohesion devices
Making a short presentation
Participating in a discussion
Developing an argument
Making suggestions



-Compound nouns and –ed or –ing modifier
-Collocations and word families
-Suffixes and prefixes
-Comparing nouns, making comparisons, adverbs of degree


-Infinitive or gerund
-Present perfect and past simple, tense contrasts
-Past simple continuous, present perfect continuous, past perfect
-Modal verbs to express ability, obligation, necessity, permission, advice, predictions, speculations and future possibilities (present, past, negative forms)


-Subject and object questions
-Connecting sentences – relative clauses

Pronunciation: self-learning and practice tools are introduced to the students.



M. Vince and G. Cerulli, New Inside Grammar, MacMillan, ISBN 9780230717473 (Red cover)
M. Vince, MacMillan English Grammar in Context - Intermediate, MacMillan, ISBN 9781405071437 (Blue)

Additional instructional or supporting materials (grammar and lexicon additional insights, reading materials, copies with further exercises, assignment instructions, texts on scientific topics or grammar topics dealt with during the course) will be handed out in class or supplied per email throughout the course.

Didactic presentations (slides) will not be sent to the students. The participating students will only receive some additional didactic material, including extracts from the lectures and links to audiovisual materials. Therefore, the participating students are strongly recommended to take notes during the relevant lectures.



The focus of the syllabus is the acquisition and improvement of listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities. The syllabus covers topics related to the students’ course of study and to the typical communication activities they might be required to perform. Special attention is paid to the purpose for which English is being studied (to be used in science departments/studies).

The syllabus activities and target level are designed, from time to time, to match the learner’s entry level of language competence. The entry level is assessed and established before starting the course.

The course is based both on a traditional grammatical syllabus and on a more functional approach, taking the communicative factors of language into account without losing sight of grammatical factors.
The development of accuracy is encouraged through a constant application of grammar rules to authentic language (writing exercises and speaking activities). Evaluative feedback is used to facilitate the progression of skills (towards a more precise and coherent language use).

Opportunities are provided for students to practice/use language in contexts likely to be encountered in the target community, in order to
- express meaning as clear as possible
- interact and communicate actively with/among students

Language laboratory ‘settings’

Lectures. Lectures are followed by conventional grammar application exercises, writing exercises (homework), reading and listening activities, speaking activities (questions and answers, debates), presentations.
Practice sessions: in class.
Group activities and individual homework: written and spoken, designed to develop the students’ ability to use English at the independent user level.
Individualized correction of errors made by students in their written exercises, highlighting of mistakes based on a grid of values (error severity) and indication of hot spots on which to focus the required self-study activity.
Self-study could be required.

Attendance is compulsory. Total hours: 32.


Consulting for students is provided by appointment. Appointments can be arranged by email and will be scheduled at the premises of Università dell’Insubria, via Valleggio, Como.

Borrowed from

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