卫诗韵 广州华附IFY 2010年毕业生,
Overcoming difficulties studying in the UK - The language barrier...
Hi there, I am your guest blogger Winsy. Today I’m gonna share some of my experiences of studying in an UK university compared with studying in else where of the world. In particular, I will point out things that I wish I’d have done so that my regrets don’t get repeated.
The first impression when we think about study abroad is that we will be living in a country thousands miles away from home, speaking to the foreigners in their mother tongue and starting to learn a new teaching system, which is different from what we are familiar with for the last decade. It definitely sounds like a difficult challenge for anyone to overcome!
Judging from my experience though now I would say, “Yes, but no”. Yes, they do happen in every overseas student’s life, I cannot deny the existence of these challenges. However, they may not be as hard as you think. For instance, when I first arrived in the UK, I hardly knew anybody apart my classmates from the foundation programme. NCUK was kind enough to send a coach and their representatives to pick us up at the arrival gate of London Heathrow and take us all the way to each of our student houses, which was very thoughtful. I tried to talk to the reps, which was horrible! Unlike taking an IELTS test, they talked really quick and with an accent from the north. I was speaking in a Chinese tone. We couldn’t understand half of the conversation. Such things kept happening for a while. But don’t panic, that’s exactly what I want to tell you: we always start with these embarrassments and frustrations. Don’t get scared. Let me tell the other half of my embarrassing story. While I was trying to make a conversation with the reps and we could not understand each other, they started to talk slowly, using simpler words and most importantly, instead of ending the conversation, they kept encouraging me to talk. This happened often with various people I encountered for the first few days. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that we don’t have to worry about the language barrier. People here are nice and patient. Keep your active attitude and enjoy your embarrassments, you will be able to talk to anyone freely in a short time.
In this process of improving your English, one thing I wish I’d done is to pick the right people to practice. You are encouraged to be actively making conversations with these native speakers, that’s true. But before you are familiar and used to the British accent, I would advise you to choose wisely who you practice with. There was a Greek Kebab house right outside our hall. A friend of mine loved to eat the kebabs so he went there constantly. I don’t mean anything bad towards the Greek guys, they are friendly and they make delicious food, but they may not have the most authentic accent. A piece of useful advice I got from the Language Centre is that the best candidates to practice English with are older people. They have the authentic accent, speak slower and more importantly: they are patient and able to spend more time talking to you.
Alright, that’s my experience in overcoming the language barriers. That’s just a beginning, there’s a lot more I want to share with you. See you soon!
5th July 2013
Winsy, University of Bristol