“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” – Frank Smith
Learning a new language is exciting, and though it can be challenging, it’s also a truly rewarding experience. Aside from being a form of communication, language connects people and cultures, and opens minds to new perspectives.
Despite slipping behind Mandarin as the world’s most widely spoken language, English is still the most popular language on the globe, with 1,500 million native and non-native speakers worldwide, and with 60 out of 196 countries using English as their official language, according to the Oxford Royale Academy. It is also the language of diplomacy and the official language spoken by the European Union, the United Nations, and many Commonwealth countries.
There’s no better time to learn English than when you’re preparing to enter the world of higher education in the UK, U.S., Australia, or anywhere else in the world. And if you can’t find the time to brush up on your language skills, many academic institutions offer English language courses you can complete alongside your studies. If English language training is something you’ve seriously considered, here are a few things you can do in advance to ensure that you’re prepared:
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1. Be proactive
Don’t wait until your course starts to look up what you’ll be learning. Get in touch with your prospective university and gather as much information as you can to prepare yourself. Speak to an academic counsellor and see if they can provide you with any materials or pre-coursework that could set you up for the academic year. You can also check to see what you’ll be learning as this will give you a better picture of what to expect before classes start.
2. Use technology to your advantage
There are plenty of free language apps on the App Store or Google Play that can assist you while you learn. These apps cover all aspects from reading and writing to speaking and listening. Some of the apps work like flash cards which makes learning more engaging. If you’re on the train or waiting for a friend, use this time to practise and soon enough you’ll see an improvement. If you’re not a fan of self-study, then download or stream English podcasts or listen to music. The more you immerse yourself in the language, the quicker you’ll pick it up.
3. Read, read, and read some more!
Reading is one of the most common ways to pick up a language. It doesn’t even mater if you’re not very confident in your ability to read or speak – as Dr Seuss once said, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know’. The benefits of reading are numerous and the more you read, the more your vocabulary will expand and your language skills will improve. If you’d like to take it a step further, read out loud. Get your favourite book or magazine and read the words out loud to help you improve pronunciation as well as boost your confidence.
4. Watch your favourite films and television series…
…and have them on repeat. It’s a lot of fun and easier to learn new words if you can associate it to something you like. Listen, memorise and imitate the dialogues from your favourite actors and actresses. Act it out if you’re a bit feeling theatrical. The more creative you get the more you’ll make learning a new language an enjoyable activity.
If you’re interested in pursuing an English language course overseas, here are a few universities for you to consider:
There’s no better school to start learning English than Dublin City University. This world-class academic institution is an English language school that specialises in English courses for non-native speakers.
What makes the university stand out is the emphasis it places on students; each classroom only has a maximum of 15 learners to ensure teachers can tend to each student and answer their questions directly. With almost 11,000 students, DCU is one of Ireland’s leading universities, teaching students from over 50 non-English speaking countries who are thrilled to be able to experience the first-class facilities and wonderful academic faculty that makes studying English at DCU an unforgettable experience.
DCU provides a broad range of courses that include General English, IELTS, Cambridge, TOEFL, TOEIC and Academic Year Programmes among many more. But if you’re a mature student looking to brush up on your English language, the university also offers courses in Business English and English for Academic Purposes.
Image courtesy of University of Cape Town
Ranked as one of the premier universities in South Africa, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is a popular academic institution among students. It’s also one of the only Southern African universities with a centre dedicated to teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Located in the heart of Cape Town is the UCT English Language Centre, offering several courses that include conversational English, Business English, and preparation courses such as IELTS and TOEFL. The newly refurbished campus is also equipped with the latest classroom technology while classes have a small intake to ensure academic quality remains.
At UCT, teachers believe in using real-life themes and examples to engage students as part of their learner-centred approach. Another unique feature is that students get the chance to provide feedback on what sort of activities and topics they would like to work on in class.
Image courtesy of King’s College London
If you’re not sure where you’d like to further your tertiary education and improve your English language at the same time, you might want to consider King’s College London.
This university provides free short courses that can help you develop your academic language and study skills while you work towards your main degree. The King’s English Language Centre also offers a variety of academic English courses specifically designed to hone your English language expertise. Hosted by highly qualified teachers throughout the academic year and across all main campuses, students can pick and choose where and when they would like to study English. Some of the courses provided by King’s include academic grammar and vocabulary, literature reviews, and presentation skills.
Ready to take on the world, one word at a time? Learning a new language at university can be frightening but it also pushes you out of your comfort zone – and you’ll be all the better for it. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International