Overcoming the language barrier in Australia
Being a student, there’s probably nothing more exciting than pursuing your studies abroad. However, studying overseas is not as simple as it always seems. A truly rewarding learning experience always comes with challenges – one of them being the language barrier, especially if the country you are moving to doesn’t speak your native tongue.
So, if you are planning on studying in Australia and you don’t happen to be a fluent English speaker, here are some things to keep in mind.
You may have achieved a high score in your IELTS, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are already fluent in Australian English. There’s so much you need to know about speaking in the Aussie style. Spend some time learning the Australian idioms, expressions, and slang before leaving your home country. An hour or two of daily online research will make a big difference, mate! Check out our list of 100 Australian slang words and phrases that will help you understand the Aussies like a local.
One of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to break down the language barrier is to muster up the courage to communicate in English with people who don’t speak your native language. It's okay to cling with your first-language groups in the beginning, but it will pay off if you leave your comfort zone and explore other areas where you can improve your English skills. That said, you can join clubs on campus or get involved with activities in your community. A list of our upcoming events is available here.
Learn from your mistakes
When it comes to learning English, or any language for that matter, you don’t need to speak it perfectly. It’s alright to make mistakes just as long as you learn from them. What’s important is that you keep the conversation going. Whether with a classmate, professor, neighbour or local store owner, make sure you maintain real and meaningful conversations with native speakers on a regular basis. It will also be wise if you ask them to correct you whenever possible.
If there’s anything you don’t understand – whether it’s a question, statement or expression – don’t hesitate to clarify. Rather than nodding or smiling shyly, politely ask for clarification and make sure you get the information. Often, native speakers would appreciate your effort and help you understand things clearly.
Surround yourself with English
You don’t necessarily have to leave your first-language groups to learn English fluently. Instead of using your own language to communicate with them, try to speak with them in English and encourage them to do the same, so even if you are always together, you can practice the language.
Consuming all areas of English-speaking media such as movies, music, books, and TV shows will also help. You might also need to change your phone and computer settings to English and avoid viewing websites in your native language.
Attend language programs
Many institutions offer language partnership programs to help international and local students enhance their respective second language proficiencies. Language programs are actually great places to enhance your spoken English while learning about other cultures.
Above all, don’t be shy. Take note, the more you speak English, the better you’ll get at it.
If you need assistance learning the English language, contact one of our counsellors. Once you feel confident in applying for a visa, our team can advise you on how to best prepare for an IELTS test, an English test for students, migrants, and workers that you may need to pass before being able to secure a visa in Australia.
Ready to take the test?10 things to remember while studying abroad in Australia