Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

Advice for International Students – English Language!

Advice for International Students – English Language!

This blog is mainly for students who are from non-English speaking countries or if English is their second language. This blog will teach you how you can improve your English and get the most out of your student life studying in the UK.

If English is your second language, studying in an English-speaking country may not be easy at first. By getting an offer at university, I believe that we all must have learned English and will at least be able to communicate and write in English. However, I understand that the English we learned in textbooks can be different from daily English or academic writing (which you will need to know studying at a degree level or higher). Here are some tips for you on how you can improve your English!

• Help from University

Academic writing can be tricky at first. Remember, academic writing is a type of formal academic work. Besides the specific wordings/phrases and layout (such as essay vs report), academic writing will also need to be structured, clear, and most importantly, evidenced. You will have to be critical about what you are writing, what evidence/reference can be used to prove your point, and are the references from a trustworthy source or biased?

If you need any academic support, you may also book an appointment with the Centre for Academic Skills and English (CASE). They are available to help with any academic-related questions. 

• Practice your English as much as possible!

You’re in the UK, so it’s the best place to practice your English! I highly suggest you talk more for spoken English, as there are no other ways to improve your spoken English besides practice, practice, and practice. Here are some tips for you:

• Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

I understand that you might not feel comfortable speaking in your second language and being afraid to make mistakes. However, I would say it doesn’t matter! The main purpose of learning a language is to communicate; people can still understand you even if you make a mistake in a sentence. Please don’t feel embarrassed, it’s perfectly fine to make mistakes! No one will laugh at you, as most people appreciate that you have tried to learn their language. Remember, mistakes help you to improve, it’s already great courage to study in a new country!

• Accent

Another thing people might worry about is their accent. When learning English as a second language, it’s absolutely normal to have a bit of an accent; this is not a problem at all. People know that English is your second language, it won’t be an issue as long as your accent is understandable.


If you wish to improve your English, the best way is to listen and talk more. Get yourself immersed in the English world:

  • Talk. Talk to your friends in English more, no matter if they’re British or from any other country. You may talk about any topics, anything you would like to know more about, and it’s always a good time for some cultural exchange.


  • Listen. Listen to more English, find something that you’re interested in: music, drama, TV shows, radio… Try to listen to it without subtitles, drop down any words that you don’t understand and check the dictionary afterwards. If you have time, listen to it again after knowing the meaning of those words so you can remember them better.


  • Read. No matter if it’s fiction, non-fiction, magazines, poems… anything that interests you. Start with something that you’re interested in and set yourself a goal. If you don’t have the habit, start with maybe three to five pages and slowly build up your routine.

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