Adapting to life in a new country can be a tough assignment,
and when you're based in Australia, that task is made even more difficult if
you struggle with English. While there is a significant international student
population and plenty of others going through the same thing, getting a strong
grasp of the English language is the ideal way to make the most of studying in
There are several official tests, including IELTS, Pearson and Cambridge, but these aren't the only ways to go about it. Honing your English language skills can be done at any time of the day in a variety of ways, which will help alleviate stress and boost your confidence.
These are just a few of the ways you can improve your English in everyday life.
Get in front of the mirror
Spend a few minutes a day talking to the mirror, so you are aware of your body language and facial expressions. This could be every morning before you leave the house, or at the end of the day before you go to bed. Simply choose a subject and talk for a couple of minutes. The more you do this, the more confident you will be the next time you're conversing with another person.
There is no shortage of ways you can use technology to boost your English proficiency. Podcasts, webinars, online tutorials and quizzes, as well as a series of apps, are all at your disposal. Apps include FluentU, which transforms real media content (news, music videos, ads) into personalised lessons, while Duolingo helps you learn English from a variety of different languages in 10 to 20 minute sessions.
Try to think in English
It's far easier to speak English, or any language for that matter, when you're thinking in the same dialect. It will be more comfortable to think in Mandarin if that is your native language but it will complicate the learning task. Make it a gradual process - start with some thinking in English when you are alone and then transition this into real-life interactions, such as ordering food in a restaurant.
Immersing yourself in English will help you become confident listening to and understanding native speakers. TV is full of rehearsed, fast-talking actors and practicing keeping up with the way they talk will help you converse with people in everyday situations. It is also an invaluable means of familiarising yourself with common phrases and slang, different regional and international accents, and cadences and inflections.
Use your smartphone or a dictaphone to record yourself speaking. Perhaps read a scene from a film or a play, then listen to it back and compare it to the source. Listen for differences in pronunciation, make alterations and keep practicing. Listening to your own voice might feel strange at first, but once you get used to it you will be able to hear what aspects of your speaking need work.