Hi I’m Tiffany, I’m from Malaysia and Hong Kong. I’ve lived in several cities in China for 10 years, Malaysia for 6, and this is my 5th year in the UK. I’ve always been part of an International community, which I love because I have learnt so many interesting things about various different cultures and countries! In a University as diverse as Loughborough University is, students and staff come from all corners of the world, many with different languages and accents. Even though I’ve been speaking English my whole life, I still struggle when listening to a certain accent... and I have realised that it is perfectly fine!
My experience at university has taught me that International AND home students both have problems with English, whether it be writing, reading or speaking. This has made me more confident in my ability to speak in English and also more empathetic to my friends, some of whom had been brought up with completely different education backgrounds and were taught in another language. I understand it can be difficult, and being intimidated and feelings of embarrassment can arise when you are in a completely new and seemingly strange environment! Here are some advice that can help you improve your English proficiency and ideas to help you transition more smoothly into an English-speaking culture.
1. University Library Events and Workshops
During my first year, I found it incredibly frustrating at times when huge chunks of coursework marks were taken off for seemingly small referencing mistakes! I realized that being able to reference properly was a huge deal and the university library’s workshops really helped me understand how to reference the right way according to my course. Just to name some of the sessions available - referencing and citation explained, writing better essays, developing an effective approach to academic reading, writing a literature review. Also, you can look into further one-to-one sessions with your academic librarian.
2. English Language Support Service (ELSS)
The ELSS runs a range of workshops and courses to help students with academic English, study skills and adjustment to UK academic culture and expectations. Support for International AND home students are available where staff can assist you with writing, grammar and punctuation. Visit the Bridgeman building on campus or check it out in the link below!
3. Try to develop your use of English from "inauthentic" to "authentic"
Although effective, classroom language learning often provides an “inauthentic” learning environment. Outside the classroom language is dynamic; it’s used by millions of people every day and is constantly evolving! Try to increase your use of English and reduce the use of your native language in everyday life. Mix with the local people, they will show you around the area and help you develop your English in a dynamic way. Also, try to start using English social media networks! A few good ones to name are Instagram, Yik Yak, Snapchat and Whatsapp.
4. Extend the range of things that you read and watch
This also ties in to the point above but try to watch TV shows and movies in English with subtitles. It can introduce you to new lingo, slangs and even help with your spelling! Practice conversation with friends and read as much as possible. Extend your reading in English. Try to use the internet in English instead of your native language. Read books, magazines, blogs and high quality newspapers in English. The more you read the more you will develop!