‘Studying abroad? Aren’t you so lucky?’
Well, instead of asking this question to those who chose another country to pursue their further study, the right thing to wonder is ‘Studying abroad? How dare you?’.
Just imagine one day waking up and the first person you see is the one who speaks English as their native language while you do not and has cereal with milk for their breakfast instead of traditional noodles. Are you scared? Yes. Afraid? Yes. Admit it, even if you are the bravest person, you will definitely feel ‘different’ when you first come to another country.
In an era where English has become the world-wide spoken language, language is the biggest disadvantage for international students who come from non-English speaking background (NESB). Peter and Gillian (2006, p.4) stated that, ‘students felt the most anxious about listening and speaking in English’. International students, especially Asian students are mainly taught how to ‘write’ English rather than how to ‘speak’ English. They are taught to ‘focus almost exclusively on learning to read English-language documents, and to prepare English language essays and letters, with little attention to the skills of conversation in English, let alone the ultimate communicative goal of native speaker-level proficiency’ (Erlenawati, 2005, p. 567).
For those who are international students in Australian, Australian English is even harder to cope with. A ‘huge Australian English library’ consists hundred of different colloquialisms and slangs make Australian English harder to understand than ever. This language barrier has also significantly influenced the way international students study in class where they hardly contribute and/or participate in group discussions. A study of Meeri and Anne (2004, p. 346) has noticed this difficulty through international students’ ‘reluctance in attempting to pronounce English words’ because they are ‘afraid of failure in front of the evaluative eye of other native speakers’.
Below is a short video about how international students see about studying abroad and some useful ‘survival’ tips to overcome difficulties living in another country:
Peter, K & Gillian, V 2006, ‘Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceeding’, International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes, pp.1-10.
Erlenawati, S 2005, ‘International Education Journal’, Language difficulties of international students in Australia: The effects of prior learning experience, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 567-579.
Meeri, H & Anne, P 2004, ‘International Educational Journal’, Learning at University: The International Student Experience, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 344-350.