Speaking inside the classroom

How are you going to take advantage of opportunities to speak English on the subject you are studying at university? Remember that your participation in the classroom might form part of your grade. The key is: DO NOT WORRY!!

  • Do not worry if you think your vocabulary is not sophisticated enough. Just find a way to get your point across with the words that you know. You do not need to be elegant, just effective.
  • Set yourself a challenge: find something to contribute each class. The more often you speak up, the less self-conscious you will become. Think about it: this is great practice for when you are in the working world – you are going to want to get your point across at team meetings.
  • Watch and listen to how students from different countries participate. How do the native speakers start their comments? “I think that…” / “In the article we read it says that…” / “I think that [name an author] has a different opinion…” or simply, “I do not understand what you have just said” / “Please could you repeat your last point”…
  • Do not worry about your accent and people not understanding you. Apart from the native speakers of English in your classroom, you are all in the same boat. And even if you are a native English speaker, you might struggle to be understood outside your region! If people do not understand the first time you say something, do not be shy about repeating yourself. The more times you speak up, the more they will get used to your accent.
  • You are a local student and are worried the international students will think your viewpoint is too local and boring! Well don’t! The international students have come to your country, in part, for just this: the local perspective and to learn about how you approach and think about things, how you do things.
  • Make the most of presentation opportunities. Does the university have a presentation skills course you can attend? If not, ask your teacher if they can spare 15 minutes of a class to give you all some top tips.
  • Try to find opportunities for longer conversations and even prepare a possible script for what you want to say to practice beforehand.

Do not worry about mistakes. First aim for fluency and communicating your point – start thinking about accuracy a bit more when you feel more confident.