Firstly can I just say how much I admire student’s whose first language is not English for taking the plunge and doing an degree in another language. I am currently learning Portuguese, so I feel your pain when you are rapidly translating and conjugating just to say something simple.
So my first piece of advice is…. keep up the good work
You passed your IELTS test to get into the University, now you need to keep learning. You need to learn different parts of English for different tasks.
- The language of academia, from your texts, lecturers and seminars.
- Social language to make friends and fully engage with student life.
- Business and work language to apply for jobs and experience.
Take it to the next level
You are going to need to make English speaking friends and use English regularly to develop your social speaking skills and the skills you will need at work. It’s very tempting to make friends with students who speak the same language as you; obviously you have lots in common. But it won’t help you long term.
Practice Practice Practice.
- Challenge yourself and your friends to have English speaking days.
- Watch English language films, news. radio & TV, go to employer or alumni networking events.
- Join a society or volunteer. (A good place to start if you are shy or need to practice)
- Get a part time job.
- Partner up with an English speaker who wants to learn your language, teach each other, this will really test your grammar and vocabulary.
- Banish books written in your own language to the back of the shelf, read, write, think in English.
You need to be able to write business standard English too if you are going to apply for a job in the UK. Your friends and academics will forgive spelling and grammatical errors, employers are not so forgiving. In the world of business where you may be writing reports or technical notes, mistakes could cost the business time and money. Your CV and application is an indicator of your ability so you need to be able to get it right.
Good news, help is available
You already have a good standard of English but job applications use unfamiliar phrases and expect language to be used slightly differently.
- You may be writing in bullet points, in a very concise manner.
- Talking about skills, using action verbs
- Talking about yourself in a way that may appear boastful.
- Talking about aspirations and motivation.
You need to learn how to do this. (Many UK students have to learn it for the first time at university too) and we can help you:
- Use our CV guide – Use the CAR model and our list of strong words http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/media/services/careersandemployabilitydivision/careersservice/crcpublications/startingpointseriesofhandouts/jobsearch/CVlinkedinguide.pdf
- Example CVs to give you ideas of how to structure your sentences effectively. http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/applicationsinterviews/cv/examplecvs/
- Cover letter Guide http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/media/services/careersandemployabilitydivision/careersservice/crcpublications/startingpointseriesofhandouts/jobsearch/Covering-Letter-Guide.pdf
- Learn about how the job market & employment works in the UK
Typical mistakes and questions
- Do I talk in the present or past?
- How do I talk about myself? Do I use I?
- Words that have similar but not the same meaning and words that spell checker won’t pick up, but are incorrect in context.
- American spellings.
- Using too many words to describe something.
Help to improve your written & spoken language
Sentence structure & spelling tips
- BBC bitesize choose post 16 – Functional skills – English 1&2 https://www.bbc.com/bitesize
- Try year 11 or 12 English topics here
Academic writing – phrase bank
Support for academic writing, speaking & grammar
If you are an exchange student …
The international society run events & socials but also have classes for improving your English. http://internationalsociety.org.uk/classes/
On the fourth Friday of each month, @WhitworthArt holds an English Corner from 10.30am–12pm. These are monthly conversation classes for people who are learning to speak English. Free and open to all.
Support for your applications and interviews
You really need to be actively using English in a variety of settings you gain the vocabulary and fluency you will need for job applications and interviews.
The Careers Service offers help with applications and interviews. We can help you to describe your skills effectively but we cannot write your CV for you. Talk to us to discuss your needs and how we can help you. http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/services/
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