One of the things that make language study so challenging is your own language background, and its “distance” from English in terms of grammar, pronunciation and use of vocabulary. For example, Korean, Japanese and Chinese students of English have to study a new alphabet just to get started, and English grammar is always tricky for students from this region.
English is a tough language to learn for many people from Asian countries, and Vietnam is no exception. Native speakers of Vietnamese also have particular areas of difficulty, and it is a good idea to be aware of what they are, why they occur, and how to overcome them.
Vietnamese students are fortunate in that their native language has a similar alphabet to English; instead, their biggest problem is pronunciation.
There is one difficulty in particular that I would like to mention here – consonant clusters or groups (for example, street, contracts).
In our earlier post, Tips for Success in Foreign Universities, we talked about how important it is for students to develop skills that will help them succeed when they study abroad. This is what Language Link Vietnam’s International Foundation Year (IFY) Programme is designed to do!
In this video, Todd Lando, LLV’s IFY Programme Manager, tells students how they can enter the program and develop the academic skills they need to study abroad.
I want to ask you four questions that will help you think about whether you are a good language learner. Answer these questions honestly:
Are you aware of your own learning style, and do you try to learn in ways that suit you?
Do you do things outside of class that give you the chance to learn and use English?
Are you curious about English? Do you try to understand how the language works?
Do you have a realistic sense of how long you’re willing to learn English, and try to overcome your feelings of frustration?
For years, researchers have known that some people are better at learning languages than others. The question is why.
While it is true that people have different learning styles – and some methods may not be appropriate for all learners – it is also true that there are some qualities that all effective language learners share.
Here are four qualities shared by all good language learners.
During my first year at university in the United States, I had to:
Read about 1,000 pages per week
Participate in class seminars (discussions) nearly every day
Write one 3-5 page paper every two weeks
Write a 15-20 page independent research paper twice per semester
Give a large, public presentation with a group of students
I did not take a single test my entire first year. I was judged entirely on my written and spoken work. My question for students who are planning to study abroad:
Are you ready for this?
The fact is, many Vietnamese students struggle during their first year in foreign universities. Why? Because even though they scored 7.0 or above on the IELTS, they have not prepared themselves with the foundation they need to succeed in a foreign academic environment.
I spend most of my work days helping students try to get abroad to university though the International Foundation Year (IFY) Programme at Language Link. Something I’ve noticed from the students I encounter is their lack of awareness of world news.
To help them with this, I implemented a current events summary assignment. Each week students have to do the following:
Find an article that interests them (politics, sports, fashion)
Condense (summarise) the article into 150-200 words
Submit it to me for lexical and grammatical feedback
The real purpose of the assignment was to create general awareness in this ever-expanding global world. If you’re going to study abroad, you need to understand the world you live in.
Listening is supposed to be easy, isn’t it? Actually, it’s not. Hearing’s easy; listening is waaaayyyyy more difficult.
First off, it’s exhausting! Until you are an advanced student – and sometimes not even then – the effort to listen can be very tiring. You have to concentrate very hard. After awhile, it becomes easy to shut off your mind. And this is not useful…or polite to the person who’s talking.
Fear not! You can train yourself to listen more productively. You can learn to focus.