Language is how we communicate academic and cultural knowledge. Coming to a new country with a completely different culture and language can be very challenging.
Many international students come from non-English speaking nations where they were taught in their own language. Adjusting to a completely new academic environment and studying in English can be very stressful. For students who come from English-speaking nations, the transition to formal, academic English can be difficult. In either case, language barriers can be a significant source of stress and can negatively impact international students’ mental well-being.
Language barriers may cause students to feel isolated. It can often be difficult to communicate with other students, professors, and community members. This impacts social interactions and may lower self-esteem. Forming social networks can help students adjust to their new environments, practice their language skills, and provide a sense of community.
... CALL TO ACTION...
Learning a new language can be very challenging. Pronouncing a word incorrectly or misunderstanding a phrase are common mistakes that anyone can make. If you are unsure of how to pronounce something, say it anyway. If you say something and a person does not understand the first time, rephrase it or repeat it until they do. It is only through practice that you will learn a new language. Learning new languages takes courage and perseverance. Do not feel embarrassed for trying. It will get easier over time.
Take a break
You may get tired of practicing and speaking a new language all the time. If you feel this way, give yourself a break. Schedule conversation time with a friend who speaks your native language. Take time to share and discuss the new things you’ve learned. This will give you motivation to continue your efforts in learning the new language.
Just like any other skill, learning a language requires practice. The more you speak it, the more fluent you will become. Communicate often in your new language with those who speak it fluently. They can offer advice on how you can improve. Watch movies and listen to music in your new language. Try joining a club, attending a concert, or volunteering in your new language to practice your skills.
Take advantage of the many language support services offered to international students on campus. This includes English as a Second Language programs (ESL), which are designed to help students whose first language is not English. You will meet others who are learning English and may even make new friends. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consult with a counsellor on campus to see what supports are available.