Here at SEDA, when our students are learning English our main concern is that our students always use a simple and efficient way. But to make it possible students need to drop some habits which are very common as we have found.
LEARNING ONLY IN THE CLASSROOM
Think of your English classes as just a learning guide suited to your current level. The development of communication skills is gradual, however, you will not progress if you limit your learning to the time spent inside the classroom.
“If out of 24 hours in a day, you devote only three to learning the language, the process will be very slow,” says SEDA’s Tiago Mascarenhas. “The contact with the language must be constant and intense”.
So try to use your time abroad to the max – speak as much you can, listen to English radio, watch TV programmes in English and read books in the language.
COMMUNICATING IN YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE
We find that many exchange students spend more time communicating in their native tongue than in English. While holding a conversation in English can be difficult at first, to continue communicating in your native language will slow down learning.
SEDA’s Academic Director Sibeal Turraoin, explains why: “Every time you speak in your own language, it makes it more difficult for your brain to switch back to English and recall what has been learned. I am bilingual myself, and I know from experience how much it slows down the learning process. The more you immerse yourself in the language, the faster and easier will you progress”.
NOT BELIEVING IN YOURSELF
When studying abroad, it is common for students with different language abilities to be in the same class or even live together. Some people have a natural ability to speak very well, but have trouble with writing, or vice versa.
“It is important that students do not feel intimidated by colleagues and never stop believing in their ability to learn,” said Sibeal Turraion. “Self-confidence is essential for learning. Do not be afraid to make mistakes”.
NOT BEING OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES
Being away from home and friends often makes students stick to people from their own country and seek environments where they feel comfortably surrounded by their own culture. But this can be a problem for the learning a new language.
Getting new experiences and making new friends are the two great advantages of studying abroad. All students should try and make friends with people of other nationalities, get to know new places, taste exotic dishes of the various world cuisines. Do not be afraid to step out of the familiar!
THINKING THAT LEARNING WILL HAPPEN BY ITSELF
Time alone cannot teach one a language. There are people who live for years in a foreign country, yet only manage to communicate with difficulty. The only way to learn a language is by making mistakes, but you also need to work in order to correct them.
We must attend classes, study at home and readjust all our daily activities for the language that we came here to learn. So watch TV in English, listen to music in English, read Irish news – in English, switch your social media and even your phone settings to English. “When you are completely surrounded by the language, you are learning even in your dreams,” adds Tiago.