When you’re preparing to move abroad for university as an international student, one of the most daunting things maybe the thought of studying in English.
If English isn’t your native language, you may be feeling worried about the thought of having to take all of your lessons, exams and tutorials in a language in which you’re not as confident. However, if you begin honing your English skills before you leave for your studies, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.
Here are some of our easy tips that international students can follow to improve their English before going to university abroad.
1. Take an English Foundation Program
One of the easiest, and most effective, ways to improve your language skills before studying abroad is by taking an English Foundation Program.
Most international schools and universities offer their own versions of such a course to students who require additional help with English before starting their studies. English Foundation Programs are not mandatory for all international students; it’s your personal choice if you wish to take one.
At EU Business School, all our classes, assignments, exams, lectures, and final dissertations are all in English. For students needing to improve their English to meet our entry requirements, a foundation program can be the perfect solution. Our specialized program helps students to refine their language skills and feel more prepared for their study program.
The English Foundation Program takes just one semester (13 weeks), typically starting in September, February or June. At the end of the course, students sit a final exam. If they pass, they are automatically accepted onto their chosen EU bachelor’s, master’s or MBA program (providing they meet the other entry requirements).
We recommend English foundation programs to anyone who doesn’t feel 100% confident in their English skills. You can improve your written and oral English skills, and make the most out of your studies at an international school.
2. Immerse yourself in all things English
One of the best ways to improve your English is to immerse yourself in the language and try to use it as much as possible.
By using a few words of English in your everyday life, you can make a big difference in your understanding of the language.
It’s also easy to improve your English language skills by watching English TV shows, YouTube videos, listening to music, or reading your favorite books in English translation. Not only are these excellent ways to help you get used to the language, but they will also help you to learn new words, phrases and slang terms that you wouldn’t typically get to learn when reading from a textbook.
3. Find some English-speaking friends
There’s no better way to learn a language than from people who are native speakers. Try to make friends with as many English-speaking people as you can – whether from your classes, or outside of the university.
It can be tempting to only want to befriend people from your own country, or who speak your native language. However, if you want to improve your language skills you really have to put yourself out there. With your new friends, you can practice your English and introduce new phrases into your everyday conversations, both of which help you to become fluent.
4. Participate in events and volunteering
If there are any English-speaking events and volunteering opportunities in your area, or at your university, make sure to get involved!
Not only is taking part a fantastic chance to socialize and make lots of new friends, but it can also help introduce you to people with whom you share similar interests. When you find people that you have things in common with, you can easily find fun topics to talk about and make the most of your English-speaking opportunities.
5. Get a part-time job
If you have some free time during your studies, getting a part-time job is a popular option for international students.
At your job, you’ll meet new people every day, giving you the chance to practice the new English words and phrases that you’ve been learning. Being in an environment in which you have to use the language will help you to improve your language skills more quickly.
6. Watch TV and movies with subtitles
Learning a language doesn’t always have to take lots of hard work and effort – sometimes it’s as easy as sitting down to watch your favorite film.
Not everyone likes watching TV shows and films that have been dubbed. Instead, why not watch programs with English subtitles instead? You can add subtitles to most shows and films, allowing you to read along with what’s happening on the screen. You’ll translate the words in your head as you watch without even realizing it.
7. Use online language tools
There are now many online tools and platforms to help students learn English. You can use apps like Duolingo and Babbel that help teach you new words and phrases. There are also English-language chatrooms where you can find like-minded people with whom to practice your language skills.
You can find online chatrooms and discussion boards for most hobbies, potentially allowing you to get in touch with other students who’ll be attending the same university as you.
If you prefer, you could also develop your reading skills online by looking at English news websites and blogs. Once you’ve built up your confidence, why not have a go at writing some of your own blogs?
8. Keep it simple and learn a word a day
Simple but effective is the most useful philosophy when improving your language skills. Why not learn a new word every day and set yourself the goal of using it in conversation? Before you know it, you’ll have a range of different words and phrases that you can use.
It doesn’t take too much effort but can be an incredibly effective way to add new English words to your vocabulary!