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LN

September 11th, 2022

How to (quickly) improve your English at university

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

LN

September 11th, 2022

How to (quickly) improve your English at university

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Coming to LSE as an international student (who was not educated in the English system) I was very excited to discover a new city and culture.

However, I was surprised by my level of English when put to the test! Although my ability was good enough for daily conversations, I felt gaps in my vocabulary when writing essays or talking about topics.  In this article, I give you my tips to progress more quickly in learning this language.

Make use of LSE Resources

LSE offers free weekly language classes at the LSE Language Centre, which I signed up for at the beginning of the year. They quickly became one of the highlights of my week! The ones I attended were discussion-based. We would discuss diverse topics and practice our speaking skills in a relaxed atmosphere. The teacher would also give us tips to write essays, such as sentences to use and linking words. He was very funny, which made the class even more enjoyable! (little shoutout to Simon Mattews). I would recommend you try the classes out, as they helped me gain confidence in speaking in English, particularly on Zoom.

The Language Centre also offers Conversation Circles, which is a one-on-one discussion with a native student. I haven’t tried these yet, but they seem like a great opportunity to progress quickly in a language, as well as make new friends!

Another useful resource is LSE LIFE, where you can book an appointment with a study advisor to proofread an essay and help with restructuring and clarity. I used this service often quite in my first year; as the advisors were always friendly and my essays looked better afterwards. The advisors do not know anything about the topic you are talking about, which helps highlight the inconsistencies and uncertainties in your work.

Go out of your comfort zone and make friends with people from another culture

The title for this one is pretty self-explanatory. While it is tempting and easier to only stay friends with people from your home country, it is important to also become friends with English-speaking natives. This will help you to improve your speaking skills by conversing in English with your peers all the time. I am very glad that I made this effort when I arrived in the halls in my first year, as my English improved very quickly!

Change the content you are watching and listening

No matter the genre, reading English books can be a helpful tool to improve your writing skills! I found that reading books that interest me, such as fiction and romantic novels, encourages me to read more than if I forced myself to read complicated books. So read and watch TV shows that you enjoy, in English of course, and you will soon see your vocabulary expand.

Be proactive!

On a more academic side, what helped me with essay writing was making a list of words that would work well in an essay. To be clear, these are not very complicated highly academic words, but rather “linking words” that will help build sentence structures and frame your essay’s arguments, making them flow more easily.

Finally, do not worry if you feel like your English is not good enough before coming to university. Embrace the learning experience and don’t be scared to talk! There are so many international students at LSE that you won’t be the only one in this situation. You will be so proud of yourself at the end.

About the author

LN

Hi! My name is Hélène, and I am currently a second year Management student at the LSE.

Posted In: Student life

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