Practicalities for the USI community

English language courses - FAQ

Frequently asked question about the English language courses offered by USI.

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  • Eligibility English language courses

    Am I eligible to take English language courses at USI Università della Svizzera italiana?

    The English Language courses offered free of charge every semester are open to fully matriculated USI students or USI professionals only.

    The personal data of every single online enrollment is verified in Università della Svizzera italiana’s database.

     

    Are family members admitted?

    As class size is an important factor in language learning it isn’t possible to admit family members, friends or students studying in other higher Institutions.

     

    How much does a course cost?

    The cost of the intensive and semester-time language courses is included in the Università della Svizzera italiana’s tuition fees. The semester fee has to be paid before the start of the language course.

    The courses are free for staff.

     

    I am a student/professional of another Swiss University. May I attend USI's language courses?

    Priority will be given to USI students/staff. Students/professionals of other Swiss Universities may attend on a fee-paying basis provided that places are available. Contact [email protected] for further information.

     

    What level must I have to be admitted to the English for Economists course?

    In order to be admitted to the English for Economists exam, you need a B2 certificate in general English. No-one is exempt from this rule.

  • Course fees and USI credentials - English language courses

    I am registered with USI. How much does a language course cost?

    The cost of the pre-semester intensive courses and the semester-time language courses is included in the Università della Svizzera italiana’s tuition fees. The semester fee has to be paid before the start of the intensive language course. The courses are free for staff.

     

    What happens if I don’t pay the tuition fee before the start of the language course?

    You will not be able to take the free of charge language course if you don’t pay the semester fee in advance since you need the university credentials to access the material.

     

    When do I receive my university account?

    You will receive your USI account a few days before the start of the free of charge language course if you have payed the semester university fee.

     

    I am a student/professional of another Swiss University. Can I attend USI's language courses?

    Priority will be given to USI students/staff. Students/staff of other Swiss Universities may attend on a fee-paying basis provided that places are available. Contact [email protected] for further information.

     

    I'm not registered with USI nor any other Swiss University. May I take language courses free of charge?

    No. External users may enroll in fee-based courses only, see Courses for external users.

  • iCorsi and SWITCH edu-ID

    What is iCorsi? 

    iCorsi is USI’s eLearning platform. iCorsi allows lecturers and students to manage, share and access teaching materials, to carry out anti-plagiarism checks using the Turnitin software, to manage communication between lecturers and students, and to create and conduct online examinations.

     

    What is a SWITCH edu-ID and why do I need it? 

    The edu-ID digital identity is managed for the entire Swiss academic community by SWITCH, the foundation that provides IT services to all the Swiss universities. As the general objective of Università della Svizzera italiana is to achieve environmental responsibility, the course material is available in digital versions in iCorsi3. The edu-ID digital identity allows access to the iCorsi e-learning platform. Create a personal SWITCH edu-ID account using your USI account and link it to the Università della Svizzera italiana before the start of the course.

  • Language level and Placement test - English language courses

    How can I determine what my language level is?

    You must take an online placement test, and you will be assigned to a group on the basis of the result.

     

    Is the placement test mandatory ?

    Yes, it is mandatory. If you already hold a Cambridge Certificate (First, CAE or IELTS) at the required level, however, once you have submitted the certificate and it has been approved, you do not need to take the placement test, follow a course, or sit the exam.

     

    Should I study for the placement test?

    No, it is a test of your current level of ability, and it will be used to put you in the right study group.

     

    When am I exempted from assessment testing?

    If the level of English required for your university course is B2, you need Cambridge First (pass at grade C or above) or IELTS 5.5.

    If the level of English required for your university course is B2+, you need a B or higher in First, or IELTS 6.5.

     

    Can I change classes if the level I originally chose is not the right level for me?

    Only if the teacher decides that you have been placed in the wrong level.

  • Course registration - English language courses

    Where can I find the description of each course?

    Click on the title of each course to view the description.

     

    How do I register?

    If you are a student in the Faculties of Communication and Economics in your first year, enrolment in English language courses is automatic. The Placement Test schedule and the link will be forwarded shortly before the start of the semester by the secretariats. On the basis of the test results you will be assigned to the correct level.

    Second- and third-year students interested in the courses can contact coordinator Dr. Christopher Dawson ([email protected]).

    For other students and staff, registration is via the online registration form. Please click on the link below:

     

    I am not a first-year Bachelor student in the Faculty of Communication or Economics. Which English courses can I take?

    If you are not a bachelor student, you can register in the courses listed in the online application form. Avoid enrolling in the Medical English course if you are not a Professor in the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences or in the English course for the staff if you do not work at USI. We check every single entry in the database and you would not have access to the course anyway.

     

    With which account can I register online?

    If you have an USI account, always sign-up with it. Register with your private email address only if you don't have a University account yet since you are a new student, .

     

    The course schedule is not convenient for me, can I register for a higher level even though my language skills don’t match?

    No, you will be assigned to a course appropriate for your level, and given an attendance requirement for that specific course. In order to be able to take the exam and satisfy the language requirement, you need to attend that specific course.

     

    I don’t know my schedule yet, can I register for more than one time slot?

    You need to attend the course to which you are assigned. If there is a clash with another compulsory course, please inform [email protected] and specify exactly which compulsory course has the same timetable slot.

     

    When is the enrolment deadline?

    If you are a student in the Faculties of Communication and Economics in your first year, you need to complete the placement test within the first two days of the semester, and the groups will be formed in the first week. After that, it is still possible to enrol for English courses at any time by writing to the supervisor of the English language courses, Christopher Dawson. You will take the online placement test and be assigned to one of the existing groups if there are free places left. For other USI members, registration is via the online registration form, see links above.

     

    When is the confirmation of enrolment sent?

    • If you are a student in the Faculties of Communication and Economics in your first year: after you have completed the placement test, you will be contacted with the details of your group and timetable.
    • All other USI members: The online registration enrols participants automatically. A detailed informative email confirming the enrolment will be sent a few days before the beginning of the chosen course.
  • Course attendance - English language courses

    Is there an attendance policy?

    Yes, class registers are checked on a daily basis, and any absences are noted by the lecturer. You are expected to be regular and punctual in class attendance and to fully participate in the course once admitted. In order to benefit fully from the course, 100% attendance is recommended. You are responsible for completing homework and autonomous activities outside class hours every day/week. You are responsible for communicating attendance issues with your lecturers via email with as much notice as possible and to catch up independently. The minimum attendance requirement is at least 80% of the number of classes held in the academic session unless you are told otherwise when you are assigned to your group.

     

    How are the classes conducted?

    Classes are mandatory in-person lectures, in addition to self-study.

     

    What is the minimum attendance? What happens if I miss a class/how many lessons can I miss?

    If you are a first year student attendance is mandatory and the minimum attendance required to sit the exam is 80% of the course. To attend at least 80% of the course students can miss a maximum of 5 lessons in a semester-time course.

     

    Is it possible to attend two different grammar levels in the same semester?

    Yes. You have an attendance requirement for one specific course. If, in addition to that course, you wish to follow other lessons as well, you may do so providing the teacher agrees to it.

     

    What is the frequency required to pass the B2 Exam focus course?
    The B2 Exam focus course - for 2nd and 3rd year BA ECO and COM students - requires mandatory attendance of 80% of the lessons.

     

    Attending B2+.2 course (Autumn term)?
    If you attend the B2+.2 course in the autumn semester, you can obtain 'bonus' points for the final examination by doing written and oral assignments.

     

  • Homework - English language courses

    Is homework mandatory?

    Classroom activities are complemented by asynchronous homework exercises. Consider approximately 2-3 hours of out-of-class work per week.

  • Personal Electronic Device

    Will I need to take my Personal Electronic Device (PED) to class every day/week?

    Yes, all USI candidates must bring their own laptop or tablet to class in order to access the learning materials in iCorsi3. As there are only a few power outlets in the classroom, remember to charge your computer before coming to class.

     

     

  • Exams - English Language courses

    Is registration necessary for the B2, B2+ and C1 level USI exams?

    Yes, for the B2, B2+ and C1 level final exam, online registration is needed at the following link: esami.lu.usi.ch. Access to the platform is through your edu-ID.

     

    Should I enrol for every session of the B2, B2+ and C1 level exams?

    It is advisable not to enrol for the exam until your teacher recommends that you may be able to pass it. However, except for the BLLCI students, there is no limit on the number of attempts.

    The exam is available in all three sessions every year (January, June and August/September).

     

    Is registration for the final test at level B1 necessary?

    No, if you are assigned to a B1 level class, there will be an end-of-semester test during class time at the B1 level.

     

    Is registration necessary for the final test of the other offered English langiage courses open to all USI members?

    No, when you register for a Language class open to all USI members, you are automatically signed up for the end-of-semester exam for that semester.

     

    What is the pass mark in the exam?

    Note that the same exam is used to test at the B2 level (60%) and the B2+ level (75%).

    Students in the Economics faculty need to reach B2 as a "debito formativo".

    Students following the courses of Communication, Culture and Society need to reach B2+ as a "debito formativo".

    Students of the BLLCI (Bachelor in Italian Language, Literature and Culture) need to reach B2, in order to earn 3 ECTS. These students have a maximum of three attempts at the exam.

     

    How is the B2 and B2+ final examination organised?

    The examination tests the four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. In order to access the speaking exam it is necessary to pass the written exam at the appropriate level (60% for B2, 75% for B2+). The same level must also be reached separately in the oral exam.

     

    If I don't pass the B2, B2+ or C1 oral exam, can I keep my score in the written exam?

    No. If you don't pass the B2, B2+ or C1 oral exam, you must take the whole exam again in the next session.

     

  • ECTS credit points and certificate of attendance English language courses

    Am I awarded credit points for the English language course?

    Only if you are studying Italian literature, Bachelor BLLCI (Lingua, Letteratura e Civiltà Italiana). In that case, a pass at B2 is worth 3 ECTS, and you only have a maximum of 3 attempts at the exam.

    In other faculties the English level is a pre-requisite, and you need to satisfy the requirement.

    For language requirements the evaluation is expressed by a binary system (Pass or Fail). You will also be given a level on the CEFR (such as B1+ or B2). 

    A grade from 1-10 is also assigned to the Italian literature students, where 6 is a pass (60%).

    For further information: ECTS USI language courses

     

    Do I get a certificate of attendance at the end of the course?

    No. If you need a certificate of your result for any reason, please ask [email protected].

  • Withdrawal from English language courses

    What is the last day to withdraw?

    If, for example, you are waiting to hear about your result in an international exam, it is possible to enrol for the USI exam and withdraw up until one week before the exam. 

    Be careful if you are studying the BLLCI programme, as you have only 3 attempts at the exam and one is counted if you enrol and do not withdraw or attend the exam.

  • What happens if I haven’t reached the right level after my first year?

    In the Economics faculty, there’s a course in the fourth semester (the spring of the second year) especially designed to help students who still need to reach the B2 level.

    In the Communication faculty, there’s a specific course in the autumn semester for second year students, called “B2+.2”. This course is set up differently from the others, and develops practical competences using authentic materials. It also includes coursework assignments involving writing, analysis and spoken interaction, which are assessed together as an element of the exam at the B2+ level, and also contribute up to 10 bonus percentage points in the exam itself. These points are only available to attendees of that specific course.

     

  • International Certificates to request exemption from the English examination

    Where do I upload the international language certificate to apply for the B2.2 or C1.2 English exam exemption?

    It is possible to upload a B2 or C1 International Certificate in iCorsi to request exemption from the USI English examination B2.2 or C1.2.

    Upload your certificate so that the teacher in charge can check its validity and confirm your exemption from the examination at the following link: Upload English Certificate iCorsi.

    Deadline for submitting the certificate: first three days of the Autumn semester.

     

    Does USI's Language centre organise preparation courses for the English B2 / C1 language certification exam?

    Yes, USI's Modern Languages Laboratory offers an intensive exam preparation course for IELTS B2 / C1 on Lugano Campus prior to the Spring semester start. Select the following link for registration.

     

    Can I take the IELTS international language certification exam on Lugano Campus?

    Yes, Università della Svizzera italiana is an official IELTS Registration partner. At the IELTS examination centre of Italian-speaking Switzerland, it is possible to obtain internationally recognised certifications of English language skills. Select the following link for information and registration.

     

    Which English language certificates are recognised by Università della Svizzera italiana in the Bachelor and Master programmes?

    Bachelor Faculty of Communication, culture and society (level B2+)

    The international certificates admitted in the Bachelor are:

    • IELTS Band 6.5 or higher
    • Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) with grade A or B
    • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) with grade A, B or C
    • Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE)

    Bachelor's degree in Italian language, literature and culture (level B2)

    Recognised international certificates are:

    • IELTS Band 5.5 or higher
    • Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) with grade A, B or C
    • Cambridge Advanced or Proficiency

    Bachelor Faculty of Economics (B2)

    International certificates accepted in the Bachelor's programme are:

    • IELTS Band 5.5 or higher
    • Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) with grade A, B or C
    • Cambridge Advanced or Proficiency

     

    Master Faculty of Communication, culture and society

    Admission to Master's programmes taught in English requires a good command of the language. Non-native English speakers applying to the Master's or whose previous degree was taught in another language, are required to provide an internationally acknowledged language certificate equal to B2 level as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Language Learning (CEFR) or equivalent (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).

    The language certificate must be included in the application.
    We only accept the English language certificates mentioned below. The certificate must still be valid at the time of application. In general, we are not able to accept language test results older than 3 years as of September 1st.

    CEFR level B2 corresponds to the following scores in internationally recognised examinations:

    IELTS 5.5
    TOEFL* 60
    Cambridge English

    B2 First

    Listening & Reading: 785

    TOEIC Speaking: 150
    Writing: 160

    Students starting a Master's course at B2 level must reach C1 level by the end of the study period. The level is demonstrated either by taking the appropriate internal examination or with a Cambridge Advanced / IELTS 7 certificate.

    * TOEFL Home Edition is also accepted, but scores must be from one examination only. MyBest" scores are not accepted.

  • Tandem language learning

    The Modern languages laboratory, USI's Language centre

    Modern languages laboratory

    About us

     

     

    What does “Tandem language learning” or “Language exchange” mean?

    “Tandem language learning” is a method of language learning based on mutual language exchange between tandem partners, where each learner is a native speaker in the language the other person wants to improve.

     

    Add a post to find a language exchange partner

    Add a post here www.desk.usi.ch/en/language-tandems

     

     

Updated on: 27 July 2023