My Journey of Learning English :)

Hi there! It’s me again. Today, I would like to share my experience of learning English in UK. As mentioned in my first blog, I was raised in a Chinese-educated environment and I entered a Chinese Independent high school (Foon Yew High School). Therefore, I hardly speak English in my daily life. Although I had to study English as a compulsory subject, it’s just a subject…I scored well in English exams but it didn’t mean that I am good at speaking English.

Until now, I am still using Mandarin to think but I can speak English naturally without translating it from Mandarin in my mind. However, when I first came to UK, I feel a bit frustrated because people here speak English in a totally different accent and they speak so fast until I couldn’t follow. Furthermore, it was so nerve-wracking in my first lecture that I couldn’t I follow the professor and take notes at the same time. Because of that, I lost my confidence, I tried to avoid speaking. For example, I would make a payment using a self-service machine, instead of paying at the till, since I am afraid that the staff might ask me some questions that I couldn’t understand. Moreover, I didn’t not raise my opinion in a group discussion because I am worried about whether they could understand my sentences.

This is my high school- Foon Yew High School. We have the largest number of students among the high schools in Malaysia!

However, avoiding is not the solution, I determined to improve my English. Hence, I enrolled in speaking, listening and technical writing courses of English Language Support Programme (ELSP). ELSP is a programmed organized by our school of literature and languages to help international student pick up English. I always book a 1 to 1 ELSP tutorial to get some guidance with my assignments, it is really helpful.

Moreover, the Academic Skills and Development team in library provides a series of programmes and workshops to enhance our academic skills, such as 1 to 1 advice on our work, workshops on how to do a research, and more importantly, Peer Assisted Writing Scheme (PAWS). This is my second year enrolled in the scheme.  Normally, a final year/ master student will be a mentor, first and second year will be a mentee. Mentors will give us guidance on our assignments, discuss our assignment feedback and focus on some specific parts we want to improve in writing. I found it useful because there is something that you can’t learn from lectures- how to write an assignment more efficiently. Senior students are more experienced than lectures in doing assignments, so they are able to give us tips on writing. For example, my mentor recommended me a reference website called ‘Refworks’ and ‘Cite this for me’ to get reference done faster. ‘Manchester Phrasebank’ and ‘Thesaurus’ are useful tool to improve my academic writing style too.  Overall, I am benefitted from the resources in the university and I feel that I am not alone in learning English.

Peer Assisted Writing Scheme

On the other hand, I always take the initiative to talk to my course mates and lecturers to get used to their accent and slang. At the beginning, I felt a bit nervous and kept asking them if they understand what I mean. However, as you practise and practise, everything starts to become natural and people are actually happy to talk to you. My British friend once told me that she admires me as I am able to speak more than one language. SEE— speaking English as a second language is not shameful at all, it’s a great advantage! This motivates me a lot to further enhance my language. Now, I have just started reading some scientific journals to expand my knowledge in biomedical science, as well as strengthen my reading and writing skills. If you are doing bioscience, below are my recommendations of journals for you:

Journal of the Royal Society of Biology.

As the saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way. Nothing will stop us from moving forward if we have a strong determination to achieve it. Ultimately, I would like to share a quote from a famous American poet, Maya Angelou —“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Wishing you a most enjoyable weekend!!!