•  FNDE1108 and FNDE1209 (mandatory foundation course for first year Arts undergraduates)
  •  Proficiency Course in English (optional courses for second third and fourth year Arts undergraduates)
  • Certificate Course in English (optional course for second , third and fourth year Arts undergraduates)


The Proficiency Course in English is an FNDE course to improve the language skills of the students in the Faculty of Arts. All students sit a placement test in English at entry to the university and are placed at Levels 1, 2, 3 or 4 (Certificate Course Part 1) according to their language proficiency. A large majority of students fall into Level 1 while a few students with excellent language skills are exempted from the course. The first year course is conducted in both semesters and is mandatory for students unless they are exempted from the course. The students are provided the opportunity to move onto the next level of proficiency in their second, third and fourth year of study at the university. Level 5 (Certificate Course Part 11) is introduced from the second year onwards.

All five courses attempt to improve the reading, writing, listening and speech skills of the students. Grammar and vocabulary are incorporated in the different skills. While listening and speech are tested in the continuous assessment process, reading, writing and grammar are tested at the final examination. The courses also make use of the Self Access Center of the English Language Teaching Unit for classroom activities as well as for promoting autonomous learning of the students. Audio visual material, web- based activities, audio texts and reading texts are provided for this purpose.

Proficiency Course in English - Level 1

Level I Proficiency course comprises two components:

-> Building Confidence to Learn English via Speech Activities
-> Towards English for Academic Purposes

Building Confidence to Learn English via Speech Activities

The Level I course starts with building students’ confidence to learn English. The aim of this component is to eliminate fear for speaking in English and build students’ confidence to use English. The activities contain day to day speech acts which cater to basic interpersonal communication skills. An atmosphere of trust and confidence is created through group work.

Towards English for Academic Purposes

The second part of the course aims at preparing students for listening, speaking, reading and writing in an academic as well as general context in English. The focus is on teaching the basics of each of the above skills. The texts that are in use can be divided into 3 categories: literary, factual and discursive. They are related to various core subjects students learn in their degree programme e.g. Sociology, Economics, Demography, Political Science, etc.

The second part aims at achieving two objectives: teaching a grammar point and a study skill required for academic purposes.

E.g. :     

a) The Sociology module aims at teaching the Simple Present tense and the structure of the simple sentence.

b) The Demography module aims at teaching the Simple Future tense and reading a paragraph for main points.

In order to develop listening skills students are introduced to listening functions pertinent to their day to day activities both in the university and outside.

In addition to the above areas, the module titled, “Thinking Beyond” aims at developing students’ critical thinking and reasoning power. It also aims at attitude development as a secondary objective.

Proficiency Course in English - Level 2

The current Level 2 course is aimed at developing reading, writing, listening and speech to help the students communicate using basic English and preparing them to deal with “academic English” at the next level (Level 3). The texts used cover varied general topics.

The first module makes an attempt to familiarize the students with the English language by helping them to reflect on their personal experiences related to English language and overcome their “fear” of using English. Furthermore, it motivates them to learn English by helping them build confidence to use English and by discussing what methods they should employ to improve their English.

The Listening component gives the students an opportunity to listen to authentic speakers from different parts of the world .This helps the students understand that there are varieties of English in the world. It further motivates them to train themselves to listen to people who speak with varied accents and understand what they say.

The vocabulary module introduces the students to dictionaries and glossaries. The purpose of this module is to help the students acquire the skills of using dictionaries and glossaries and help them develop their vocabulary.

The grammar section mainly aims at teaching the basic components of grammar such as the basic tenses, articles and prepositions that are needed for basic communication in English (both writing and speech.)

Students are taught oral presentation skills in order to improve their spoken English and also to give them the skills of formal presentation.

The reading module attempts to develop the reading comprehension skills of the students. The module consists of texts covering diverse themes that would be of general interest to the students and also would guide them towards reading academic texts.

Proficiency Course in English - Level 3

The objective of the Level 3 course is to develop students’ second language skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening for academic purposes. Students at this level are expected to have a threshold level of English proficiency with a considerable knowledge of basic grammar, discourse and vocabulary to cope with academic texts. Equal weight is given to the development of all four skills. In addition to the classroom instruction, students are expected to carry out autonomous learning with the use of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Suitable CALL materials are selected and integrated into the curriculum.

The main objective of reading at Level III is to impart reading strategies such as prediction, skimming, scanning, inference, deduction of meaning from context, evaluation, and interpretation. In addition, skills such as identifying different text types, comparison of information from different text types and vocabulary development are also targeted. Authentic texts from academic books are chosen to create the reading material. In addition, a particular website is also recommended to get more reading practice. The texts are not edited or adapted but carefully chosen in order to be comprehensible for students in the Arts program who follow numerous subjects for their degree. Therefore, texts from Economics, Demography, History, International Relations, and Political Science are chosen. Nonetheless, field specific chapters with technical terms are avoided.

In the listening component, the main objective is to develop the students’ skills in comprehending academic lectures in English and note-taking. The students complete the activities in the module by listening to the recordings. A standard Sri Lankan accent is used in the recordings. However, more listening practice is recommended through online listening activities which give students access to various accents of the world.

The development of academic presentation skills is the main objective of the speaking module of the Level III, English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course. Students watch video clips in the Self Access Centre to observe body language, language and techniques of academic presentations. They present in groups to be assessed formatively before the summative individual assessment.

The writing module attempts to develop the skills in transforming information from charts and graphs into descriptive, expository paragraphs using connectives, conjunctions and sequence markers. Furthermore, summarizing skills are taught using the reading texts of the Level III reading modules after carrying out the target reading lessons. The students get further writing practice by engaging in online activities in the recommended website.

Certificate Course in English - Part I - Level 4

The reading component of the course makes use of authentic academic and general texts written for specialist and/or non-specialist audiences taken from magazines, books, journals and newspapers. Themes include areas and issues interesting and appropriate for undergraduates pursuing studies in Humanities. Texts vary in style: descriptive, narrative, expository and persuasive. They cover a wide range of genres such as fiction, reports, and articles. The activities focus on distinguishing fact, supposition, opinion, and arguments from each other and understanding complex grammatical structures.

Writing skills are developed by teaching short essays, articles, reports, and assignments in relevant styles: descriptive, narrative, expository and persuasive. Focus is on correct use of grammar, organizing data, focusing on the main points, maintaining coherence and the flow of paragraphs – topic sentences, transitions etc., the writer’s stance and use of appropriate language.

Listening deals with authentic spoken texts (possibly with asides, deviations and digressions) set in different registers/contexts: medical science, environmental science, astronomy, business, academic, political, economic and everyday social contexts. The texts are taken from online sources and include different varieties of English spoken by single or multiple speakers. They cover a variety of genres like, mini lectures, short and lengthy talks, panel discussions, songs, documentaries and news.

The speech activities focus on developing the students’ ability to defend arguments, handle questions of clarifications, suggestions, comments etc. in formal presentations and peer group discussions on general and academic topics.

The grammar component of the level is aimed at helping students do precise reading and writing involving complex structures. The students are taught both simple and complex sentences in detail. The training the students receive helps them distinguish the differences created in meaning because of the variations in the syntactic structures of the sentences. The module also focuses on presenting many ideas in one sentence giving special attention to the well-formedness of sentences and it equips students to make grammaticality judgments on their own constructions.

Certificate Course in English - Part II - Level 5

The overall objective of the Level 5 course is to provide students with reading, writing, listening and speaking skills that will be needed in enhancing their employability in the academic and the corporate sectors.

The reading component attempts to teach students to identify main ideas and supporting ideas in academic and non academic texts using sub skills of skimming and scanning and interpret complex texts by understanding coherence and cohesion within texts and use the information in a range of activities.

The writing skills require that students accurately and fluently display mastery in organizing content, using invention techniques, correct grammar, vocabulary and style in formal and informal writing. Students are taught be proficient in report writing through interpreting data and documenting it , paying attention to format, content , grammar and vocabulary. They also have the opportunity for expressing creative ideas through appreciation of literary passages and poetry.

The listening component focuses on recognizing spoken utterances from various registers through extracting both the gist and specific information of a spoken text. Students are trained to understand explicitly stated information by paying attention to importance markers and ignoring irrelevant information.

Speech skills taught at Level 5 include facing a formal interview with confidence, responding to complex questions accurately and fluently and speaking with confidence at a formal presentation, expressing opinions and answering questions related to the topic.

For further information contact

English Language Teaching Unit
University of Colombo.

Telephone :- 011 2506705
Fax :- 011 2506705
E-mail :- eltu@eltu.cmb.ac.lk