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Talk about English - Webcast

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Cultural differences Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vocabulary from the programme

the ambience
the mood, feeling and atmosphere of a place

integration
becoming a regular and accepted member of a society

Example:
One of the challenges of living in a new country is that integration is very difficult if you don't speak the language.

to be paramount
to be the most important thing

Example:
The students wishes and needs are paramount

a syllabus
a set of things which must be studied on a particular course

Example:
In most schools students follow the syllabus set by the government's education department

Topics in the programme
The recording was attended by students from Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Lebanon, Germany, Japan, Colombia, Thailand, Iraq and Portugal.

There were different reasons for coming to the UK; to find work, to be with spouses and partners, to study, to learn 'proper' British English and to find safety were a few that were mentioned. The weather and the food, as always (!), were features of Britain which caused some comment. An interesting angle on this were the comments from a French student about how in England she found that many people did not eat their meals around the table with their families. Meal times in France, she said, were much more important and more social occasions.

Some students found it difficult not to use their own language outside of the classroom because they were living or working with people from their own country. However some made positive efforts to speak English as much as possible, even with those who spoke their language.

Advice on improving English
The following tips and pieces of advice came from the students:

  • Don't spend time with people from your own country. Try to mix with British people or other English speaking foreigners.
  • Read books and newspapers
  • Watch television and films
  • Do self-study
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes - don't spend too long thinking about the perfect thing to say, just say it!