Learning English at a language school in a foreign country might seem intimidating at first. What will it be like in my English classroom? What will my teacher be like? Will I be put in the right level? What will my classmates be like? Will I make friends?
At the UCT English Language Centre, we host students from all over the world. The best thing for any classroom, for the students in that classroom and the teacher is a classroom full of students from different countries.
1. If students don’t speak the same home language they will be forced to speak to each other in English which speeds up the learning process.
2. Students will learn to speak English and learn vocabulary and structures outside of the classroom so will be concentrating more on fluency outside the classroom and less on accuracy, which can be the other way around in the classroom.
3. Everyone will be able to share new ideas and stories with each other from places they may never have heard of, or know very little about. This makes things far more interesting. One of the ways to introduce any topic in a classroom is for the teacher to ask ‘how is it in your country?’ For example, if you are about to talk about public transport and learn the language associated with public transport, and the teacher asks everyone to briefly explain if there is public transport in your country and what it is like, you will have the opportunity to learn things you never would have thought about before. Compare places like Europe with Africa and Asia!
4. Students will learn a lot about different cultures, traditions, religions and ways of life. These things foster an environment for a better understanding of the world we live in and it is not uncommon to hear students having interesting discussions about things they have read in the news and the way they see these things from their own points of view. Students leave the school not only speaking much better English, but with a new world view and better grasp of how things look different through other people’s eyes.
5. It creates the perfect context for students to ask each other about the things that come up in the news. Recently, we had a Brazilian student ask a Chinese student ‘do you eat dogs in China?’ to which our Chinese student rolled her eyes and replied, ‘No ways!’
6. It makes life more colourful and interesting and you always have something to talk about because you don’t share a common language, background, culture or heritage but realise you are more similar than you think, and you get to laugh a lot at everyone’s crazy stories.
So, be brave, and take the decision to join many other international students just like you who share the same desire to speak or improve their English at a high quality institution with excellent teachers. We look forward to welcoming you here!
*Image credit: Acturus.com