In the beginning it may be difficult to adjust to the speed and accent of American speakers. In most cases, with a little time, students’ skills improve. In many countries, English language classes focus more on the written word and less on oral and aural skill development. Seeing improvement in your skills and becoming more comfortable takes time and practice. Alternatively, you may be experiencing a crisis of confidence rather than actual language difficulties. The more opportunities you find to use the language, the quicker you will overcome this crisis.
How to address specific weaknesses
If your listening skills are weak, continue taking notes in class, but consider taping lectures or borrowing another student's notes (this can be a good way to make contact with U.S. students as well as provide a means for checking your comprehension). Spend time listening to the radio and/or TV even if you can not follow everything being said.
If your speaking skills are weak, you might benefit from becoming active on campus. Join a student group or another club based on your interests like International Student Association or participating in activities in the dorms like floor programs and meetings. Participate in an intramural sports team. Throughout the school year, Intramurals and Recreation offers team and individual sport opportunities, like basketball, raquetball and soccer.
Go to a Culture hour, sign up for a trip through ISA’s Cougar Cruising Program, or participate in volunteer opportunities through the Office of Community Engagement. Living with roommates who do not speak your language can also provide you with speaking opportunities. http://www.morris.umn.edu/internationalstudents/events/
English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered on campus and address each of these areas. The ESL department offers classes in oral skills, reading and composition. ESL classes are really useful! Some students find it helpful to take the same ESL class several times because there always opportunity to improve one’s skills. If you have questions, talk to the ESL coordinator, Nancy Pederson. 320-589-6454
If you want to see improvement in your language skills it is essential to participate in activities that allow you to practice English every day. It’s understandable if the idea of speaking English with Americans who are strangers makes you nervous. It’s important to remind yourself what you can gain from improving your English and what you will lose if you do not.
NOTE: Due to visa regulations, international student who are having difficulties in a course because of English should not drop below full-time without first meeting with an ISP adviser in Multi Ethnic Resource Center, room 115. Please contact ISP for more specific information. 320-589-6094
For more information about ESL courses, contact Nancy Pederson, 320-589-6454
International Student Program can help find resources to help with academics. ISP is located in the Multi Ethnic Resource Center, room 115. Contact Pilar Eble, 320-589-6094.
The Writing Room offers writing assistance to students. Located in Briggs Library, room 327. 320-589-6299