Bridging the ‘English gap’

Achievements and challenges of a non-award English language program


  • Natalia Bornay Flinders University, South Australia
  • Greg Collings Flinders University, South Australia
  • Regina Sliuzas Flinders University, South Australia



tertiary education, NESB students, communicaion skills, English language proficiency, English language support program


Australian universities are increasingly welcoming international non English speaking background (NESB) students with little consideration for the cultural, linguistic and institutional adjustments that the students must make. The substantial gap between the required English language proficiency for entrance and that expected on graduation remains a concern. This need for additional language support became evident in the Student Learning Centre (SLC) at Flinders University, where records indicated that NESB students seeking academic assistance were overrepresented. Consequently, the SLC created an English Language Support Program (ELSP) to enhance the communication skills of NESB students. Student feedback and improvements in ability showed that this program has been successful since its inception in 2015. However, it is only a first step in addressing the so-called ‘English problem’. This paper discusses the advantages and constraints of this non-award program to assist NESB students to bridge the ‘English gap’ in higher education. 

Author Biography

Natalia Bornay, Flinders University, South Australia