You don’t have to know its language perfectly to engage with another culture, but a few words can really make a difference. Here’s a useful starter guide for studying abroad in England.
If you’ve spent some time in other countries, you’ll know that just a handful of words and phrases can make a huge difference to the experience. Knowing a little of the language means you can better engage with the locals without relying on them speaking your language, and give you a degree of autonomy you would not otherwise have enjoyed – whether you’re going on holiday or studying abroad in England.
Please, Thank you, Sorry, Excuse me. As with any language and culture, being polite will open doors for you. People will forgive a lot if they know your heart is in the right place. Good manners can compensate for a large number of mistakes – whether linguistic or social.
Given that meeting people is probably one of the main reasons you will have decided to study abroad in England, learning how to start and end interactions is an important ability. It doesn’t bode well for a conversation if you can’t find a way to open it and greet someone naturally: Hello / Hi / Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening.
Similarly, ending a conversation is important because it sets the tone for next time, and for the person’s memory of your interaction. If it’s the first time you’ve met, you might finish with Nice to meet you. Otherwise Goodbye / Bye are best, or the more informal Take care / See you.
When introducing yourself, say My name is… You can tell the person a little about yourself too: I am a student / I am studying abroad in England / I am learning English at the summer school.
Out and about
You will generally find that people are quite responsive if you ask them for help, especially if they know you are studying abroad in England. Make sure you listen carefully to the answer and ask them for clarification if you aren’t sure what they said.
Where is the …bus stop / …train station / …supermarket / …hospital? The answer will probably contain the terms Straight ahead / On the left / On the right. If in doubt, take a map with you and ask, Please could you show me on the map?
If you can’t follow someone’s reply, ask Please could you repeat that? If you are sure you won’t understand the answer, you can try something like Please can you say that a different way or simply, I’m sorry, I do not understand.
Hopefully you’ll get some time off from you work schedule when studying abroad in England, in which case you’ll want to relax and maybe go out for a meal with friends. When asking for something in a café or restaurant, say Please can I have… To check the price, ask How much is that? If it’s a café or fast food place then you will probably have to pay in advance. If it’s a restaurant or somewhere a little more formal, you may need to ask at the end of the meal: Please can I have the bill?
It’s well worth memorising these and a few more phrases, since people will appreciate you making the effort and are more likely to respond positively. Additionally, compared to the rest of the world, relatively few people in England speak a second language well. This means that whilst studying abroad in England may be a good education choice and career move for you, it helps to do a little work before you get there to ensure that you will be able to get the most out of your time there, rather than spending a lot of time learning the basics.
This article was supplied by the UEA International Summer School – one of the UK’s top 20 universities and a world top 150. For more advice about studying in the UK, visit the UCAS website.
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