How to study efficiently in a foreign language
Studying in a foreign language can be a quite tough thing.
Aside from the language barrier itself, totally different teaching methods and learning habits could also be considered as obstacles.
Taking my major as an example, Our postgraduate programme is a one-year project with 8 modules (4 core modules and 4 optional modules) and one final dissertation so that the schedule is quite tight. Assignment and exams are always set up just after the holidays, which is completely different from my homeland, China. That means that you have to arrange your time properly among learning, playing and travelling during the holidays. I am not familiar with such kind of teaching system in the UK. In the winter break, I left myself with limited time to finish four 3000-word essays and it led to the ill-preparation and low mark of the final assignment. Therefore, my friends, remember to start as soon as possible！
It is not easy to balance between reading all the core materials and finishing all the module essays. Since English is not my first language, it takes a longer time for me on the reading part compared with my classmates from English-speaking countries. At this time, how to organize time properly becomes an essential skill. Don’t be afraid to ask your personal tutor if you have any questions during the learning process. Check your personal tutor’s office time and feel free to talk about your confusion with your tutor.
Our modules are normally separated into two parts, one of which is lectures with large capacity and the other is small-class seminars focused on group discussion. During the seminars, students are welcome to share their own opinions and ask questions while some international students may feel too shy to make their own voice due to the language problem.
I am studying Digital Media and Society in the university so it is our routine to observe different kinds of social media products and retrieve target data. In China, WeChat and Weibo are the most popular social media platforms and netizens seldom use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in mainland China, which has resulted in a cultural gap and awkwardness when we hold relative discussions. In this case, you miss the opportunity to express your opinions and exchange with others in the seminars.
My suggestion is that you should prepare well, reading academic materials your lecturers give, playing with different digital products (my major) and going over previous knowledge before seminars so that you could be more confident to participant in the discussion. Shutting doors to the outside world does no good for your academic process and even exacerbate your sense of loneliness and depression. Make your voice heard!