International Students


Welcome to Western!

Learning Development & Success invites you to learn about services that can help you have the best student experience. LDS has a friendly, professional staff who can answer questions and provide assistance as you adjust to studying in Canada and as you progress through your studies. Academic Support & Engagement offers many other student services such as the Writing Support Centre. For a list of upcoming events especially for international students click here.

About our Service

What is Learning Development & Success?

Most universities in Canada offer this kind of support to their students. The goal of Learning Development & Success is to make good students even better students. The staff answer questions and provide advice on how to be successful at Western. They help students develop new skills or strengthen existing academic skills. Students can choose from a variety of services: they can make an individual appointment with a staff member, view our online presentations and receive course help from our Learning Peers through our virtual PAL Centre

Who uses this service?

Learning Development & Success is for all Western students. Each term students in all years and programs seek information and support to strengthen their skills and improve their grades. Some students want to meet just once, while other students want ongoing support. Students who may especially benefit from Learning Development are new students making the transition from secondary school to university, international students adjusting to a new learning environment, and students facing the new demands of graduate school.

Why do students use Learning Development & Success?

There are many reasons why students use Learning Development. Any questions or concerns about academic performance are appropriate. If you're unsure if we can help you, send us an email at or call us at 519 661 2183. If we can't answer your question, we will direct you to someone who can. Here are some typical concerns:

  • incomplete class notes: we can teach you how to take better notes
  • low grades: we can explore with you different strategies to increase grades
  • not keeping up with readings/coursework: we can show you approaches to managing time so that you'll be better prepared for classes
  • uncertainty about how to prepare for a test: we can explain to you effective ways of remembering information and studying for test formats such as multiple-choice

What added benefit can this service offer international students?

International students may experience additional demands such as adapting to a school system that is different from the one in their home country, studying in a second language and adjusting to a new culture far from family and friends. The Learning Development staff understand these demands and provide friendly, professional support through both individual and group services:

  • Individual Services: International students who want to meet with a staff member can do so in a confidential individual appointment or can receive from a Learning Peer through our virtual PAL Centre. Some reasons why you may want to meet with us are:
    • You're not sure what your professors expect in terms of participating in class, asking questions, or completing assignments.
    • You're not completing coursework or getting adequate sleep because you're spending so much time translating your textbooks into your first language.
    • You're having difficulty understanding course materials, or you have questions about course vocabulary.
    • You'd like the support of a friendly person to discuss learning issues as you adjust to studying at Western.
  • Group Services: Like other Western students, international students can view Learning Development presentations. Presentations specifically for international students, such as Academic Success for International Undergraduate Students, are also offered during the year.

Is it confidential? Is it free?

Yes, it is confidential. All information provided to the Learning Development Counsellors is confidential. It will not be shared with family, university staff, course instructors, or others unless you provide written permission. It will not become part of your academic record at Western.

Yes, it is free. You will not be charged for services. A portion of your student fees covers the cost of these services and ensures that they are available to all students free of charge.

How do I access Learning Development & Success

This varies depending on the service you wish to access:

  • To schedule a confidential individual appointment, complete the required forms and email us at Appointments are 50 minutes in length.
  • Receive course-specific help from our learning peers through our virtual PAL Centre. You are not required to book an appointment, just follow our instructions on our PAL Centre page to meet with one of our Learning Peers. 
  • View our Learning Development presentations
  • Feel free to read our Skill Building Handouts found on this page.

Common Learning Issues

My class has a mark for participation. What do I need to do?

Asking or answering questions are good ways to start participating in class. Saying something early in the lecture is usually easier than waiting until later. Don't be afraid to share your ideas and opinions; it gets easier with practice. Even asking about something you did not understand in a reading is viewed as a positive form of participation.

If you would like to discuss your class participation strategies, book an individual appointment with a professional in Learning Development.

How can I take better notes in class?

Taking effective lecture notes is very important as the material covered in class may not always be covered in readings. If your professor provides an outline of the lecture on the course website or at the beginning of the lecture, write it in your notes. Organize your notes during class under the titles and sub-titles given. It is not necessary to write down every word that the professor says. Listen to the main point(s) under each heading and write these in your notes.

At Learning Development we can show International students how to take effective lecture notes that will help them organize and learn their course material better. Students can also show their notes to a professional in Learning Development to get information on how to improve the quality and effectiveness of their notes.

I have too many things to do and am behind with my course work. What should I do?

Managing a large workload is an issue for all students, but being an international student can make it even more challenging. International students whose first language is not English may need to spend extra time reading textbooks or understanding assignments. Also, they may miss home and feel that they do not have time to make new friends. For these reasons, it is important that you learn how to manage your time well. As a start, try using a calendar to record due dates and using a weekly schedule to write down the tasks that are most important to complete. Try to include some time each week for non-academic activities you enjoy, such as playing a sport or joining a club to meet new people.

Western has professional Learning Development counsellors who can help students create time management plans. International students can meet with a counsellor by booking an individual appointment.

Where can I get help with academic reading? I have a lot to read for my classes, and English is not my first language.

Academic reading is different than other types of reading, and it is useful to learn strategies that will help you identify and remember the most important information. You may not have to translate every single word if you know what to look for. In fact, reading with some specific questions in mind will help improve your understanding and memory of the material.

For help with this strategy, contact Learning Development & Success by emailing You can also view our online presentations for additional help. Reading in a second language can also be improved if you practise your spoken English and increase your vocabulary, so consider participating in English conversation groups on campus.

Academic Success for International Undergraduate Students

In this video, you will learn ways to complete work on time, listen to and understand lectures, increase comfort with class participation, move from surface to deep learning, and use helpful campus resources. This session was designed primarily for students who are new to Western and who wish to become more familiar with learning at a Canadian University. Watch the first video in the series below, or watch the complete "Academic Success for International Undergraduate Students" series on YouTube. Videos include:

  • Introduction to academic success for international undergraduate students
  • Completing work on time
  • Listening to and understanding lectures
  • Participating in class discussions
  • Types of learning at a Canadian institution
  • Asking for help

Video 1: Introduction to academic success for international undergraduate students

Watch the complete "Academic Success for International Undergraduate Students" series