Overcoming the Language Divide
By: Sadiah Waziri
Difficulties with language are a common area of concern for many international students. The adjustment process, culture shock, as well as understanding and conveying thoughts in lectures, seminars and tutorials can cause great stress to students who wish to participate in discussion forums or question and answer sessions.
Social support and interaction are simple yet effective ways to assure that the English learning process is made easier. For those whose first language is not English, the following steps should be taken to ease the adjustment process:
- Speak to professors or tutorial leaders and express the difficulties of adjusting to the language. Instructors have a responsibility to assist and advise students.
- Visit the ESL or International Student Services departments on campus.
- Workshops on how to write and read English on campus should be frequented. They are designed to help students in a personalized space to better the quality, style, structure and content of writing essays as well as reading course material.
- Sign up for Buddy Programs and network with experienced students. This program helps students to exercise their oral communication skills.
From my own personal experience, students who search for help and resources are more apt to succeed in the adjustment process. During my undergraduate studies at York University, an Iranian student from one of my classes expressed her difficulty in adjusting to the work load due to the language barrier. I advised her to visit the ESL Open Learning Centre for further assistance. By embracing the issue and putting forth the effort to learn, this international student improved her writing and communication skills drastically before the end of the semester.
Alis grave nil! [Nothing is heavy to those who have wings]