World Education Services
Hey, international students: Are you planning to study abroad in the U.S. but are worried about your English skills? English can be a challenge for international students who have recently arrived in the U.S.
Although you might have gotten great scores on your English tests, you still may not be able to place your McDonald’s order in an eloquent way.
Learning English as a second language can help you communicate and adapt to a new culture more easily. So, international students, treat this as a key to opening the door to a wonderland, and you’ll feel easier about it.
Your preparation should start early—before you come to the U.S. As an international student, an English test is required for college admissions in the U.S. Your TOEFL or IELTS score is regarded as an important criterion when comparing your performance to that of other applicants for both recruitment and scholarships. If you're passionate about earning a higher score, you'll have the patience to see where your problems lie from a comprehensive angle and how you can improve on them.
Here are a couple of tips to improve your English and help you adapt to your life in the United States.
- Words and grammar: Words and grammar are the most basic elements of English and are also the essential building blocks for your English tower. A single word can hold various different meanings as well, which can make learning English even more difficult. Though remembering words and grammar can seem boring and difficult at times, think about the most efficient way for you to learn English. Don’t think about challenging or embarrassing yourself by learning words like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” You’ll want to learn words that will be helpful to your daily life and your study abroad experience in the U.S. Think about when you're shopping in IKEA to buy furniture for your new room. What do “double size,” “full size,” and “queen size” beds mean to you? They're simple phrases, but you won’t necessarily know what they mean.
- Reading: When you've learned a considerable amount of English words and grammar, you’ll feel better about reading paragraphs or articles in the language. English has a strong logic system so abstracting keywords and key sentences will help you improve your reading efficiency. Usually, the first and last sentences of a paragraph are the key sentences. Understanding these sentences will help you get the full picture.
- Speaking and accents: Worried about your accent? Your accent should be the last thing you worry about. Even people in the U.S. have accents based on the regions they come from. For instance, people from the South might say “y’all,” meaning “you all.” A good example of this is Sheldon’s mother in The Big Bang Theory. People may laugh at other people’s accents in comedy shows, but it won’t really affect whether people understand each other when they are speaking in everyday life.
Living in the U.S., you should feel more confident in learning and improving your English skills. Living in a world that blocks you from your native language will encourage you to better your English. There are at least two things you should make sure you achieve when it comes to this process:
- Finish all of your readings and assignments after class. Practicing to read and write in English will help you build a good sense of the language. Sports magazines and fashion design catalogs can be good alternatives to textbooks as well.
- Mingle with your American classmates and friends. I’m sure you and your American classmates will share a mutual interest in getting to know each other. Step out of your comfort zone and speak up. It’s the fastest way for a newcomer to figure out where to get the best local food and what the local lifestyle is like. Don’t know how to start a conversation? Talk about the weekend! Thursday and Friday are good days to say, “Hey, any plans for the weekend?” Then you can talk about a trip or sports game you are attending or a movie you want to see. When you come back on Monday, you can ask your friend, “Hey, how was your weekend?” The weekend is always a good starting topic for conversations.