As an international student who came from a country where English is not the major language, I am required to work a little bit harder than other native English speakers in order for me to be able to comprehend the lessons as much as I could.
I have been studying English since primary school, however, I only studied grammar then and did not have many chances to use it in terms of communication. After I finished my high school, I did not succeed to get into the university that I wanted in my country. Nevertheless, thanks to my supportive parents, I was given a chance to study abroad.
After I had known that I will be living abroad in English-speaking country, I was pleased and nervous at the same time because I will be leaving home alone for a very long time, therefore, I must be independent and make most of this second chance.
Sorry about the long boring introduction, I just feel like I have to introduce something before getting into the core parts (that is how essay works). Let’s get to the topic. When you live in another country, you must be able to communicate their language. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to be at least understandable. In this post, I will provide you some tips for those who are learning English as their second-language. As after your English has improved, there will be benefits coming afterwards such as better grade, more friends and happier life.
The main point of these tips is to surround yourself with another language environment just like a child learning language after he is able to communicate.
1. Watch some English cartoons, movies or series. Try watching them with English subtitle first if you prefer and then turn it off. The reason here is because when you communicate with the real English speakers, there won’t be a subtitle below their face. You don’t need to understand every word but at least you should be able to understand what is going on in the show.
- You can try to watch some cartoons first because they are more approachable (can be easily understood). It may sound silly but it will slightly improve your listening skill. There are plenty of hilarious cartoon clips on Youtube.
- Then, try to watch some movies (always with no subtitle so that you have to pay attention to understand). You can start with comedy movies first and then try some more serious movies (action, drama, sci-fi)
- Watching series is my most favorite option! (who doesn’t love series). Because there are plenty of episodes and seasons that sometimes you can’t just stop watching them! Again, try the comedy ones first (eg. Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory) and then the sci-fi ones (eg. Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural, TWD) and then the serious ones with beautiful British English (eg. Sherlock, Game of Thrones).
I have been watching more than a thousand episode of series before I came to this point. (Not that I have much leisure but I always be multitasking). It really works! It not only improve your listening skills but it sometimes also give you the sense of English humor and you will know how the word is uttered practically.
2. Listen to English music and sing along with it. In Melbourne, most student love music. They listen to music when they are on the public transports, when they are studying, doing the assignment and sleeping. Try to listen and catch the lyrics if you could. Then, sing along(or mumble if you are shy) after you know the lyrics. Apps such as Spotify even provide you lyrics nowadays! If you can sing the songs CLEARLY, you should be able to speak English beautifully as well.
3. Use English-English dictionary. The point here is that you should know the definition of the words so that you will know how it is used instead of knowing its translation. Some English-English dictionaries can be quite expensive (Cambridge, Oxford) but it will be totally worth it for a long period.
4. Follow some popular English pages on social media according to your interest. You can follow the news, memes or trolls about your favorite TV shows, sports teams or celebrities. Read the comments (the comments are just hilarious nowadays, aren’t they). Don’t be afraid to leave the comment too! You could be in the top comments sometimes.
5. Make friends with people. Communicating in English was terribly hard for me at first. Nonetheless, the more I communicate, the more I improve. You wouldn’t believe how super easy to make friends here in Melbourne. You can actually make friends at anytime anyplace. Here is some tips:
- Relax and be friendly (who would ignore nice people right?)
- Just break the ice by say “Hi” or ask them any questions (eg. are you in my class? Do you know how to get to …?). It can be awkward at first, but once you guys start talking, everything will be easier.
- Most people are actually friendly but they are just shy and not the ice breaker. So, once you start the conversation, they may help you out about what to talk.
- Once you get the sign that the person wants to be friend with you, you can introduce yourself by “I am ..(you name)..” and offer your hand (to shake their hand) or you can directly say “what’s your name?”
- The most basic topic to talk when make new friends seem to be ‘what are you studying?’
- If your English skill is not good enough yet and sometimes you may not understand the word they say. Don’t be shy to ask them the definition. People understand that English is not your first language so they will be happy to help you out.
- Smile if you’d like.