Volunteering as an International Student

When people study abroad in America, they think of making friends, visiting new places, and learning the culture (and studying, of course!). The obvious answer is to gain those experiences through school and travel in the country you’re studying in. But have you ever thought of volunteering as an international student? Not only can you enjoy volunteer service, but it has many other benefits as well. As the article from International Student Blog says,

“the US also provides great volunteer opportunities that allow you to give back to the community. Volunteering as an international student will expand your horizons and introduce you to a new part of the US culture. Not only does volunteering help you meet new friends, but it shows potential employers or scholarship panels that you care about your community.”

Some of their volunteer suggestions include:

  • Working at a food pantry or soup kitchen
  • Tutoring students
  • Presenting about your country and culture at events or schools
  • Cleaning a beach or park
  • Walking or playing with dogs at a shelter

If none of those ideas interest you, then let’s start thinking about what other ideas would! The article offers 3 key points to help you find that interest (and do the research to find organizations or events you can participate in).

  1. Play to your strengths
  2. Gather information
  3. Figure out the “why?”

Continue reading here for the full explanation on the 3 points and more tips to volunteer as an international student in America.


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Culture Shock!

Many people will feel culture shock when they study abroad. Especially for language learners, it can be stressful to adapt to the culture and school work. However, culture shock is a well-studied topic and there are many coping tips. “How to Deal with Culture Shock while Studying Abroad” by Mandi Schmitt is great article that explains how to overcome culture shock. For example:

1. Learn as much about your host country as possible

Read through travel forums, guidebooks, news reports, or novels. Talk to people who have been there or — better yet — are from there.

Get to know as much as you can about what’s considered polite or rude (for example, did you know it’s rude to step over someone’s bag in Madagascar?) and prepare yourself for some of the differences before you go.

2. Ask study abroad coordinators for advice

Specifically, ask them what other students have had a hard time adapting to and what they’ve done to cope. Each country has it’s own nuances, so you’re going to face a different situation in France as you would in Thailand. Ask those who know best!

3. Set learning goals for your study abroad trip

This may be obvious, but make sure you have goals for your study abroad trip, and make sure they include learning about your host culture. Do you love food? Make it a goal to learn how to cook a local dish.

4. Write down what you love when you first arrive, and look back later

During the honeymoon phase, write down all the things you love about your new host country (maybe even in your new study abroad blog?). Later, when you’re feeling frustrated or irritated, use this list to remind yourself of all the good things about your host country, instead of the things that annoy you.

5. Find a healthy distraction

Especially in stage two, when you may have negative feelings towards your host culture, find a healthy distraction. Take some time to yourself, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, cook a meal from home, or have a solo dance party in your house.

Continue reading the full article here.


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Tips for Writing Under Pressure

One common final exam is writing, and that is coming soon with the end of our Spring quarter. Many students will feel a lot of pressure from writing paragraphs or an essay with a short amount of time. That’s why it’s important to learn how to handle that pressure. Here’s a great article from ThoughtCo. that shares how you can to do that:

“8 Quick Tips for Writing Under Pressure”

by Richard Nordquist

You have 25 minutes to compose an SAT essay, two hours to write a final exam paper, less than half a day to finish a project proposal for your boss.

Here’s a little secret: both in college and beyond, most writing is done under pressure.

Composition theorist Linda Flower reminds us that some degree of pressure can be “a good source of motivation. But when worry or the desire to perform well is too great, it creates an additional task of coping with anxiety” (Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing, 2003).

So learn to cope. It’s remarkable how much writing you can produce when you’re up against a strict deadline.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by a writing task, consider adopting these eight (admittedly not-so-simple) strategies.

Continue reading here for the 8 strategies


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Connectors and Comparisons

Have you heard of “linking language”? These are words that connect two sentences. It’s important to know how to use linking language because they help you change the flow and rhythm of your writing style. More importantly, they connect two ideas. In other words, linking language helps you explain more complex ideas and express more nuance. If you don’t use linking language, your sentences are possibly short or disconnected in terms of rhythm and ideas. Mastering linking language shows you know how to logically connect ideas.

Below is a chart of linking language, or connectors, you can try. Read the original  article by Kenneth Beare for more explanation about what connectors are and how to use them: Sentence Connectors and Sentences – Showing Comparison. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

TYPE OF CONNECTOR

CONNECTOR(S)

EXAMPLES

Coordinating Conjunction and…too High level positions are stressful, and can be harmful to your health too.

Customers are satisfied with our sales, and they feel our marketing team is friendly too. 

Subordinating conjunction just as Just as high level positions are stressful, they can be harmful to your health.

Just as students need a vacation from studies, employees require some downtime in order to bring their best efforts to work.

Conjunctive adverbs similarly, in comparison High level positions are stressful at times. Similarly, they can be harmful to your health.

Students from Asian countries tend to be excellent at grammar. In comparison, European students often excel in conversational skills. 

 

Prepositions like, similar to Similar to other important professions, high level business positions are stressful at times.

Like the healthy pursuit of free time activities, success in the workplace or at school is essential to a well-rounded individual. 

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70 ways to improve your English

Fall Quarter will finish soon, and in the long Winter Break, don’t let your English get rusty. There’s lots of interesting and fun ways for you to continue improving your English. Many of them can be done in your daily routine and hobbies! Take a look at this list of 70 ways to improve your English. You’re probably doing some of them already, but it’s always great to find new things to try. Recommended for all levels.

We’ll be on Winter Break for about a month after next week. Check back on January 10, 2017 for updates.

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The Good and the Bad

For many English learners who study in the U.S., it may be difficult adapt to an American classroom because the teaching and learning styles are different. One difference may be in how mistakes are corrected. Specifically, American teachers may not correct all of your speaking mistakes. You’re probably wondering, why not? Doesn’t correcting all your mistakes help you? Actually, that’s not always the case. Everyone makes mistakes, even native speakers. These mistakes don’t always mean that you don’t understand certain grammar points, and sometimes they even help your learning process.

Here’s a great article on why some teachers don’t correct all your speaking mistakes for good and bad reasons. If your teacher is an example of the good reasons, then great! You’re in good hands. But if you notice your teacher is an example of the bad reasons, try talking to your teacher and work out a better learning approach together; clear communication is an important way to work through these problems and improve your learning. This article is recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400-800/EAP).

Article preview:

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Continue reading here.


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6 Study Tips for ESL Learners

People study in different ways, and what doesn’t work for one person can work for you. So it’s important to try different study habits and narrow down what does work for you. Check out these 6 study tips and give them a try if you haven’t yet (it’s good for reading practice too!).  Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).After reading, also try our study page here, which has a lot of different resources, from reading material and exercises to videos and worksheets.

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Writing for a North American Academic Audience

Audiences from different countries also have different standards for everything, from music and movies to books and yes, even writing. How you write in one country may not match the standard of another. So when you go to America to study, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with American academic criteria and expectations.

For writing in particular, not only do you consider your own ideas, but also readers–the audience. With your writing style, can you convey your ideas successfully to American academic audiences like your professors or classmates? Read Purdue OWL’s article on this topic and review your style! And be sure to check out the other useful information on writing at their website’s left menu (e.g.: Stance and Language, Tone and Purpose, etc.). Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).


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10 Tips for ESL/EFL Academic Writers

You’ve mastered the basic essay model of introduction, body, and conclusion. Now it’s time to advance that model into a complex and fully-supported academic or scholarly essay. This is a challenge. You have to convey your ideas in engaging sentences, transition smoothly between paragraphs, provide credible and convincing evidence or examples, and more–and don’t forget the basics of English grammar!

Though academic writing is a challenge, many students can succeed with practice. If you put in the hard work of reading other works, rewriting your own work in multiple drafts, proof reading, and peer reviewing, it will all pay off! As you do all that, try Jane Mackay’s 10 Tips for ESL/EFL academic writing writers (and everyone else too). In her many years as a copy editor, Mackay has read and edited a lot of work by non-native English writers. Therefore, her article offers tips and insights that are especially useful for English learners.

Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).

10 Tips for ESL/EFL academic writers article preview:

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The Hamburger Essay

Writers know that the basic model for an essay is introduction, body, and conclusion. Think of this model as a hamburger–the two bread buns are the beginning and end, and the meat patty is the body, where all the essential flavor of your essay is. But your flavor, your writing quality, may start off bland. You need to practice–do many writing exercises, read a lot (especially examples of good writing), and write as many drafts as you need to until your “flavor” is delicious.

Read the article How to Write an Essay and see how the author Kenneth Beare explains this hamburger essay model. Continue with his 30 minute writing exercise; watch the video and follow the steps and see how good of a “hamburger” you can make! Recommended for intermediate and advanced learners (Levels 400+).

How to Write an Essay article preview:

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