Introducing the Cross-College Themes

by on 01/08/2017

Cross-college themes are weekly topics which we use to inform classwork, activities and excursions at the International College. As a small community, we promote integration across courses and across college, whenever possible.

Weekly themes provide the framework for classroom lessons, study visits, excursions and special events and, in turn, allow learners at different levels and on different programmes to interact with each other.

There are a number of benefits to this integrated approach, including:

  • A genuine unity of purpose across the college.
  • Opportunities for taking learning ‘beyond the classroom’.
  • Opportunities for students of different language levels and nationalities to mix.
  • A fresh start and sense of momentum for students on longer-stay courses.
  • An opportunity for shorter-stay students to integrate easily.
  • Exposes students to Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).

The chart below gives examples of how components are linked by the themes. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Cross-college themes components

During term time, overarching themes such as ‘Society’ provide the focus for each Module, and weekly themes such as ‘Education in Oxford’ the learning sequence for each week.

How are the weekly themes chosen?

There are several key considerations for deciding the weekly themes:

  • They are preferably something Oxford-related at times when students arrive at the college.
  • Weekly themes chosen during term time need to fall into longer 3 or 4-week overarching ‘modules’ of connected themes.
  • Local, national or international events influence the theme content. This could be the Lunar New Year, Red Nose Day, Wimbledon, etc.
  • Themes should be interesting, topical and add to students’ knowledge of the world.
  • Themes should tie in with IELTS and Cambridge exam topics.
  • Themes can highlight promotional messages from the British Council or Visit England.
  • Themes, activities, and cross-college events should work together wherever possible.

A look at the most frequent IELTS or CAE writing topics will reveal a great deal of overlap with our Weekly Themes. This includes topics such as education, traditional culture, the environment, technology, and crime.

Past ISI Inspection and British Council reports on the International College have noted that our thematic approach to teaching and learning helps students build an “awareness and understanding of cultural themes”, and “provide opportunities for students at different levels and on different courses to practice their English together”.

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