You’ve been exposed to the English language for a very long time. All your favorite songs are in English, right? You know the lyrics, so you’ve clearly mastered part of the language. You can even have basic conversations with native speakers.
When you decide to study in an English-speaking country, however, you’ll have to take your skills a bit further than that. The professors will use complex terms. If you don’t understand them, you’ll find yourself in an embarrassing situation: you won’t get the lecture and you can’t interrupt them to ask what they meant. You’ll also get academic writing assignments, and that will be a problem. The expectations won’t be lower; you’ll have to meet the same standards set for native speakers.
So how do you do it? How does an ESL student make it through the educational program in an English-speaking country? We’ll give you 6 tips to help you master the language to the needed level.
Master the English Basics Beforehand
Many people believe that when they get immersed in an English-speaking environment, they will simply learn the language. You’ll speak with natives and you’ll improve your vocabulary by intuition. Yes, that will happen if you intend to be a casual speaker. If you’re a student, you’ll have to be more serious.
You need to start mastering the basics of English language way before you start the studies. These are the main aspects to focus on:
Proper and relevant vocabulary
How do you get serious about this? Search for courses in your local area. When you pay for an actual course, you’ll force yourself to go to classes and do everything right. If you want to save money, start a free online course. But, make sure to stay committed to it.
Many foreign students make the same mistakes when they start studying in an English-speaking country: they group themselves with other foreign students. Yes, you’ll feel close to people who came from the same region. You’ll be facing the same challenges. However, that doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself in the group that makes you feel understood.
Make friends with locals. Those are the people who will show you the best clubs, restaurants, and shopping centers. However, they will also force you to speak English. They will give you feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Most of all, they will make you feel comfortable using the language in a natural setting.
Find a Tutor
What if you’re having troubles with the language after the studies start? It will be difficult to study while mastering the language at the same time, but you’ll have to do it. You need a support system. Ask around, so other students will recommend someone who can be your English language tutor.
If you’re unable to find someone, you can work with native English writers from services like SuperiorPapers. Keep in mind that hiring professional writers and tutors will cost a lot of money.
Bring Dictionaries and Use Language Learning Apps
When did language learners forget about the importance of dictionaries? It seems like no one is using them lately. Well, guess what: the dictionary is still an important tool. Bring a dictionary that translates words in your native language.
However, don’t forget to get the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, too. It’s aimed at non-native English speakers, but the words come with descriptions in English. You’ll intuitively understand the concepts. That’s better than mechanically translating them into your language.
Do you like technology? Great! Start using English language learning apps on a daily basis. Here are few to try:
Duolingo – The gamified style of this app makes it addictive. The site comes in different languages. If you can find your native language there, you’ll get complete lessons that help you master English.
Busuu – 22 hours spent with the Premium Busuu program is equal to an entire college semester of language study. That’s how effective this app is.
Memrise – This tool gives you various courses to choose from.
Be a Proactive Learner
You can’t expect people to approach you with the intention to teach you English, can you? You have to take things in your own hands. At the end of the lecture, each professor invites you to ask questions. That’s your chance. If you didn’t understand part of the lecture, just ask if they can simplify it.
Whenever you’re talking to your English-speaking friends and you’re not sure how to form a sentence, just ask them. Ask what a certain word means. Be a proactive learner and you’ll master the language really quickly.
When your friends are saying a word you don’t know, repeat it after them. Try to imitate the way they pronounce it. ESL speakers rarely lose their accent, but you have to do your best to sound like a native. You can achieve that goal only when you copy what you hear.
Listen to your favorite songs and practice the lyrics. Take things further: record your own voice. It sounds different when you listen to the recording. Then, compare your own speech to the original. Practice, so you’ll minimize the differences.
Bonus Tip: Have Fun!
Do you know how many words you can learn in parks, bars, and dorm rooms as long as you relax? Even your favorite TV shows can be lessons. Relax! You’re a student, after all. Of course, you should be serious about mastering the language, but don’t get too stiff.
The bottom line: everyone can learn English. You’re not an exception. Immerse yourself in the surroundings, stay committed to the courses, and you’ll start noticing progress by the day.