Studying in the UK – Speak with confidence!
- Choosing your friends wisely
- Participation in class
- Presentation skills
Choosing your friends wisely
Its normal in uncomfortable situations to look for comfort. And in the case of studying abroad, this is the reason why Thai students gather to speak in their own language and also to talk about things that they are most comfortable speaking about.
While it’s always good to have Thai friends to speak to and hang out with when you’re abroad, the important thing to remember is that it could keep you from making friends from other countries. And that’s how you gain many different types of skills you will never expect to. One of those important skills is to be able to speak the English language with confidence.
Forcing yourself into a situation where you have to speak English will not only give you the benefit of being able to think of the right words quickly but also get you interested in knowing more English words and learning from your new non-Thai friends. And let’s face it, it’s actually fun learning new accents and English quirks from other countries.
Taking personal experiences into account, I remember the interesting differences between my 20 people group of friends, all being from different countries. My Singaporean got me addicted to the ‘lah’s and the ‘meh’s while my friend from Mauritius showed off his English with a slight French accent. My British and Greek friends have their own sexy accent and my Tanzanian friend spoke English so slowly I almost fell asleep a couple of times. So choose your friends wisely because they will be important to help you gain confidence in speaking the global language, have fun and make the most of being amongst foreign classmates.
Participation in class
The most common mistakes that Thai people make are to sit in a lecture hall or seminar room and be absolutely quiet, while having the lecturer go on about the important materials that you’re supposed to listen to, understand, remember and be able to demonstrate during an exam or on dissertation.
It is most likely out of respect for the lecturer that Thai people tend to participate and interact the least in classes, but remember that you will be missing out on speaking up about what you think is right, wrong, or just giving your opinions in general on the topic being discussed.Thai people are either scared of saying the wrong thing and looking dumb or afraid their English language is not good enough to convey what they want to say.
Remember that the golden chance you’re missing out on here is having 200 people or so in the lecture hall and the renowned lecturer remember your name, who you are and how good you can be. Whether the language is good or not, it’s the best opportunity to improve it when you’re there. Instead of judging you for potentially saying the wrong thing or having bad grammar, they will applaud you for trying hard and making an effort to share your thoughts. When the time comes for your classmates to tell others about their awesome friends in the UK, your name will not be lost and more importantly, when the time comes for you to request for a recommendation letter from your lecturer, they will not blink and try to remember if you were actually in their class. The best part to participating in class is gaining confidence in speaking English making a mark for yourself.
You can almost hear the internal groan from every Thai student when they hear they have to do a presentation in class. I know for a fact that it’s not because they think they are not good at the subject or topic. 90% of the time, it’s because they don’t want to do it in English. And so what happens most often is that they ask the best English speaker in the group to do the speaking part and they will just about do everything else but go up to the front of the class and speak.
Let me tell you how many times I’ve made a spoof when doing presentations. From the shy Thai girl who never speaks up in class and literally trembles at the prospect of having to do a presentation, I completely changed when I was doing my Master’s degree in the UK. I actually volunteered to be the one to do presentations. I figured that I might as well do everything I have never done back in Thailand and guess what, I not only enjoyed myself but I also learnt so much more about each topic out of nervousness and gained a lot of confidence speaking in front of people. My public speaking skills and communication skills improved dramatically.
The best advice here is to do what you would never get a chance to do or would never have done in Thailand. Take charge and be the one to lead a presentation, and practice your English language skills by speaking in front of the class full of people from all over the world. If you make a mistake, you laugh, learn from it and improve the next time round. If you do well, everybody remembers you!
So, mingle with the English speakers, speak up in class and show off your presentation skills! Good luck, and most importantly, make the most of your time in the UK!