For non-native English speakers, attending an English university can be both stressful and intimidating. One of the first courses non-native English speakers frequently take is English as a Second Language, which can put some students on edge. Once they’re in class, however, students typically realize they had nothing to fear. Being prepared ahead of time can ease some of these worries, so here are some things you can expect if you’re a non-native English speaker who is about to take an ESL 101 course.
What to Expect
A Friendly Environment: While it can bring out some self-conscious fears, realize that you are not the only student who is not fluent in English – the entire class is in the same position as you! These classes are designed for students who know very little English and the teachers won’t expect you to learn everything overnight.
Focus on College Preparation: The bulk of the English lessons will be geared toward getting you ready for college courses. While this may seem a bit daunting, remember that this is what the professors are trained to do. They don’t expect anyone to take away perfect English on the first day and they understand that learning a second language is a process.
A Lot of Writing: Be prepared to write in English…a lot. A large focus on introductory ESL courses is going to be on understanding the alphabet and sentence order. English can be difficult for many because the letters do not always make the same sounds. One of the ways this is taught is by writing out words and pronouncing them one syllable at a time. Once learners have a basic grasp for pronunciation, they will move on to putting those words into sentences. Sentence structure in English can be hard to grasp at first because it is so different from most languages. Don’t give up! Many people struggle with English, but sticking with it will pay off.
Tips on How to Most Enjoy the Class
The overall objective of ESL 101 is to get non-native English speakers prepared for university courses. Don’t worry about messing up or being left behind – the courses are designed around you, the student. Instead of letting your anxiety build, try some of these tips to ease your worries.
Realize that all the other students are in the same position as you. No one else is going to be speaking perfect English, so don’t stress about it. College is for learning and that’s just what ESL is for. Don’t get yourself down by comparing yourself to the other students. Each person and the way they learn is unique. What’s important is that you strive to find a way that works best for you. What works well for others might not be as effective. You know how you learn best, so utilize that and be supportive of your classmates and the way they learn. Don’t forget that they probably feel nervous and self-conscious, too!
Remember the professors are trained in teaching ESL. When it comes to learning subjects that we dread, it’s easy to find the professors a lot more intimidating than they actually are. Don’t avoid asking questions if you need help. It’s their job to teach and assist students who do not natively speak English.
Make friends with your classmates. Chances are they’re just as nervous as you are. By reaching out and making friends, you’re helping craft a community that can work together toward your one common goal – learning English as non-native speakers.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Learning a new language is hard. No one is going to expect you to get it right overnight. Just like with any skill – like riding a bicycle, learning to swim, or practicing an instrument – it’s going to take time. Relax and enjoy the experience.
Things to Prepare for Class
If you’re not the type of person to just jump in, there are some steps you can do ahead of time to be better prepared. If you’re a planner, here’s a list of things to consider before you start your course.
Make sure you have all of the required materials. This should be a no-brainer, but be sure you have everything the school and professor require you to have. This will typically just be your textbooks prior to the course. On the first day, the professor will usually let you know if you need to buy anything special, such as note cards or a binder. It’s always a smart idea to take a notebook and pen the first day.
Familiarize yourself with basic phrases and sentence structure. A quick search online should bring up a few reputable sites to help you get started with learning English. Try to go into the course knowing introductory and pleasantry phrases, as well as basic sentence structure. Just those two things will put you ahead of the curve!
Consider bringing along a recording device. Whether a proper audio recorder or an app on your cell phone, it might be smart to record the lectures. It’s easy to miss small details in any class, let alone a class that’s in a different language. Recording the lecture will allow you to listen at a later time in case there was something you missed.
Have a planner handy to schedule study sessions once you have your syllabus. On the first day of class, you should receive a syllabus which will outline which lessons you will be covering and when. Entering that information into a planner and scheduling your own mini-study sessions around it will boost your language-learning skills.
As with any new subject, the important thing about learning English is to stick with it. Push any fears you may have aside and realize that if thousands of other students can do it, then you are more than capable. Just be sure that you show up prepared, focus on making friends and building relationships, and have fun!
Post by Online English Editor.
Online English Editor is an English proofreading service and provider of resources to help individuals prepare for university studies and professional careers.