Students from overseas are coming to study in the United States in record numbers—over 800,000 last year alone. Of course, they all have varying levels of comfort with the English language, especially when trying to converse with native speakers.
Improving those skills can expand your experience while studying here in America. Here are some easy ways to speed up the process.
Make American friends
Many international students come to the US and then hang out with people like them: other international students. Immersion is the quickest way to learn a language, so immerse yourself in American social settings.
This solves a lot of problems. First, there are many “insider tricks” to the English language, some that even come down to social subgroups and location. The only way to pick these up is to meet and converse with people in those groups.
Second, your American friends can help when you get into a bad habit, like mispronouncing a word or using an idiomatic phrase wrong. Besides, aren’t you here to participate in the American culture?
But we don’t mean study for your classes. Study American newspapers, books, television shows, and movies to pick up more of these insider tricks.
They say you can judge a person’s comfort with a language by their ability to joke in that language. Studying some funny American movies or TV can help you learn all about the timing and rhythm that is so important when trying to be funny in English.
You might not thinking reading newspapers and books would help with your conversational skills except for one trick: read them out loud, even if you’re alone. Even Americans sometimes read things aloud in order to see how words sound to a reader.
Tutor other students
You obviously have some academic skills that brought you to the United States to study. Share those abilities with students who are struggling while practicing your English conversational skills at the same time. It’s as if they are learning about your subject while you’re learning about English—except you’re the only one being paid.
When you are teaching, you obviously want to speak as clearly as you can in order to be understood by the student. Not only is this practice, but it’s practicing good habits.
Tutoring leads to improved creativity in the language as well. Just like any teacher, sometimes you have to find other ways to make a point in order for the student to understand. During the course of your lesson, you might have to say something two or three different ways before your student comprehends.