Tips for the English as a Second Language Student – Part 1

It has been my pleasure through the years to teach International Students. I am not speaking of teaching ESL but of teaching writing to International students whose first language is not English. These students are special to me for several reasons. First of all, they must pass Standardized ~English tests to be accepted into Colleges and Universities. The grammar and punctuation required is quite difficult. Also, they pay about three times the tuition of a native Canadian. They must save and spend much money to come to study here. Sometimes, they have no family or friends until they begin making them once they get here. They are choosing to immerse themselves in English so they can excel and achieve success in their careers.

Any teacher who has had these types of students notices them because they are always trying to improve. If they have made an error, they want to know how to correct it. They usually ask for resources or tips. It is for these types of students this blog is written for.

How to Improve in your English Immersion Experience

1. Keep an ongoing journal – write down any new words that you hear throughout the day. Try to copy the exact phrase – not just the word. If possible ask for clarification of the meaning. If it is not appropriate, later ask a friend or colleague for a definition. Use your dictionary to get a clear meaning.Try to learn at least 1 new word each day.

2. Keep a pronunciation journal – If possible get a voice recorder and tape yourself speaking certain words that you want to add to your vocabulary. You can always google a pronunciation dictionary for correct annunciation but you yourself should also practice the words until you can pronounce them with ease.

3. Watch/ Listen to the news in your region. Usually national news such as CBC or CNN or BBC World News are excellent in their pronunciation and grammar. This is excellent practice for speaking proper English.

4. Try to make a Canadian friend in your class. It can be as simple as asking to borrow a note. Try to improve your vocabulary by speaking to students whose first language is English. You will find most people to be friendly and willing to communicate. It is through oral communication you can best learn and use your English skills. You may make a friend that is more than an acquantance this way and not only improve your conversational English but also enrich your life experience.

5. Explore your city. Shop, go to the movies, attend interesting events to you. The key is try to do it without someone who speaks your native language fluently. The alternative, is you may go with an ESL friend but both promise to speak only English during your day. By participating in the events interesting to you and literally surrounding yourself by English speakers, you will pick up much information not possible in school alone. Example, phrases appropriate for sporting events or musuems or concerts.

Enjoy your Canadian experience!

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