3 problems you might encounter when studying in a foreign language


Studying abroad is fantastic no matter what you’re studying – or even where you’re going – and studying abroad in a language that isn’t your first language can be even better. Despite all its trials and tribulations, it is a worthy challenge and a surefire way to boost employability.

If you really want to experience a new culture, understand people, and be part of your host country, you’re going to want to speak the language.

Whether you’re studying in a dialogue you’ve only recently learned or have known for years, there are some universal challenges you may encounter when putting that knowledge into practice in an academic setting. The conversation highlighted three…

1. Not attending seminars

The problem: You’re afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself by mispronouncing something or not knowing the words to describe what you’re trying to say… so you shut up.

Take a deep breath, what could be worse? Source: Giphy

Faculty will likely interpret this as a lack of enthusiasm and commitment to the task, whether it’s a tutorial, seminar, group work, or presentation.

The conversation have even reported that international students can become so preoccupied with their language skills that they even see themselves as inferior to their peers.

The solution: No matter how daunting it may seem, talk about it during the seminars. We bet you got the job done and have something to contribute, so don’t let your language worries get in the way.

No one is there to laugh at you, they are also there to learn and they just might learn something from you if you dare to enter the chat once in a while.

2. Bad relationships with those around you

The problem: Relationships can be especially difficult when it comes to teachers, whom you don’t see in social situations the same way you see your peers.

Simple things like not understanding formalities or formalities expected when talking to those around you can be really problematic. You may be misunderstood or even seen as rude.

Don’t isolate yourself, be open about your struggle to communicate. Source: Giphy

The conversation reported that the majority of students did not learn to deal with the power dynamics and complex structures that higher education presents.

And, since language is a “key inhibitor” of build relationships in Western culture, while forming relationships and connecting with those around us is the key to our well-beingnot to mention an integral part of human nature, it is crucial that students know how to connect with their peers and faculty.

The solution: Simply ask. We know, we know, that means talking to people again, but if you want to get better at something (like speaking a language), practice is a really good way to go about it.

Ask your teacher directly how they would prefer to be treated. Stay in touch, notice how they talk to you, and try to replicate that level of formality or informality. You can also ask your friends, especially if they are national students, how it is customary to interact with teachers from your host country.

By keeping in regular contact with your teacher, you should ease any anxieties you may be feeling and establish a natural working relationship with them.

3. Missed diagnoses of learning difficulties

The problem: Particularly in written work, students who may have learning difficulties such as dyslexia are not diagnosed if they write in a foreign language.

Writing essays doesn’t have to be a struggle… Source: Giphy

Teachers tend to interpret spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors as students not speaking the language well enough rather than identifying underlying learning difficulties that require specialist help.

The solution: If you think there is even the slightest possibility that you have learning difficulties, you should go to university. Whether it’s an academic service provided by the university or a trusted teacher, there will be someone there who can help you take the test.

If you are diagnosed with a learning disability, special assistance will be put in place to help you, which could make all the difference in your education.

So be brave, step up and don’t doubt yourself. We’re human, we make mistakes and if you study in the language, we bet you’ve mastered it much better than you tell yourself in your head.

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