Excuse me! Could I have a quick word please?

I know it’s hard. Your lecturer is in a rush and is walking quickly along the corridor and is avoiding eye contact because he doesn’t want to stop and talk to you. Or your tutor is in her office and you are plucking up the courage to knock on the door and ask her something. How can you start the conversation? I’ve put a few phrases for international students together below to help you. If you think they’re handy, share them with others!

Trying to catch your lecturer in their room or corridor
Excuse me. I’m a third year finance student. Could I ask you a really quick question about ……..?
Excuse me. I’m one of your students. I can see you’re really busy right now. Could I make an appointment to see you some time? It’s about the presentation. It won’t take long. It’ll take about ten minutes.
Excuse me, I’m on your history module and I wanted to have a quick word about ……..
Is now a good time?
Can I email you about it?
Would you like me to come back at a more convenient time?
I’m one of your students and I wanted to talk to you about …..
Hello. Do you have office hours when I could come and speak to you? I would like to ask some questions about our coursework.

Reminding your lecturers and tutors
Hi, I’m Cici, your student. You said you would send me that document but I haven’t received anything yet.
Hi. I’m on your module. I’ve been looking for the reading list on the portal but I haven’t been able to find it.
Hello, I’m Ayesha. You asked me to come for a tutorial.
Hello, I’m Andy. We have a tutorial scheduled.
Hello, I’m Li Wen. I came for our tutorial but you weren’t in your office.

Making excuses
I’d like to apologise for missing my tutorial. I was really ill.
I’m really sorry for missing our appointment. I had to….
I’m sorry but I’ve got to ………… so I won’t be able to come to my tutorial/lecture.
Can we rearrange our tutorial for another time?
I’m a student on your module. I’m afraid I missed your lecture on Monday because I was ill. Could I still get the handouts please?

Talking to people around the university
• Some staff may not be used to talking to international students so you may need to ask them to slow down!
• Staff will try to help you if they understand your problem. Say who you are and what you have come to talk about.
• We say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot in English!

Asking for help in an office
Hello. I’m a third year student. I want to change my elective. Can you tell me what I have to do please?
Hello. I need to …… Can you tell me what I should do?
Hello. I think there’s been a mix up with my paperwork. It says that ………………but it should say …………………
Hello. I’d like to speak to somebody about my library fine.
Hello. I’m a student renting a house with a private landlord. I have some questions about my tenancy agreement….
Hello, I’m a new third year student. I need to see a doctor but I haven’t registered. Can I make an appointment?

And when you still need help
I’m sorry, but it’s still not clear. Can you tell me that again? Could you speak more slowly, please?
I’m sorry. Can you go over that again, it’s quite hard to follow.
You mean I have to ….
I have been to her office but I can’t find her! Can you suggest something else I can do?
I have done everything that I have been asked to do but it seems there is still a problem with ……..
I’ve been to see ……….but they told me to come back here! I really need some help with this.

Thanking people for their help
That was really helpful. Thanks a lot.
Yes, you’ve solved my problem. Thank you!

Take a look at English for University.com study guides here.

And this page from IH has lots of useful phrases for English language learners.

phrasebook for international students