In this semester-long series, our expert Learning Instructor for International Students Julianne Reynolds offers tips for keeping English “switched on” in your daily life at Penn. If you’re only using English in the classroom, you’re missing out on a lot of learning opportunities. Follow these short and sweet tips to flip the switch to English.
Seek out university clubs or groups where you share a common interest with other members. Check out the Office of Student Affairs’ website for a complete list of student organizations and budget time into your schedule to attend regular meetings. You might also be interested in attending social events sponsored by student groups or your academic department or school. When you go to these events, go by yourself or with one other person. If you go in a large group, you’re more likely to stay with your group and less likely to mingle with new people.
But don’t just take it from us:
“When first moving to the US to study, I never actually thought that the language would be a major hindrance. After all, I have been studying English since I was 3, and all of the books I used for my undergrad were in English due to the lack of translations. But what I found out is that even though I did OK in class, it was much more difficult to accurately communicate in everyday situations: having lunch with your classmates, etc. It was in those moments that it was more difficult for me to find the words I needed to convey my ideas. I decided, then, to look for activities that would involve meeting people outside of those that speak my own language. I signed up for intercultural programs such as ILP (Intercultural Leadership Program) and Intercultural Buddies at GSC and started organizing activities with my U.S. classmates, like going out for dinner. After all, if I wanted to be surrounded by people from my own country, I would have stayed home. It’s so rewarding when you are able to speak to anyone right from the top of your mind. It takes time, and above all, it takes practice, but it’s totally worth it.” – Fernando Gama, Electrical and Systems Engineering, SEAS ’20.