Yun Eun Jeong, a mother of two teenage sons from Korea, shared with us her experience of studying General English with us.
Please tell us a few things about yourself (e.g. past schools/courses, passions, quirky facts about yourself, etc.)?
I am a mother of two sons who are in their late teens and have been in Singapore more than 3 years. When I was in my country, I worked as a pharmacist and was so busy that I could hardly share my time with my family members. As you may easily guess what it’s like to have two teen-aged boys, I am struggling with my sons now. But I have been really appreciating my ‘temporary’ vacation and family time here in Singapore, because I don’t work here which means I don’t need to be in a hurry like how I used to be.
How long have you studied with British Council Singapore?
It’s been about 4 months since I have studied with British Council Singapore. I don’t know what made me so reluctant to register for studying English at first. Maybe I didn’t want to be stressed with attending classes or doing assignments. hough I didn’t consider myself as a fluent speaker, I haven’t faced any serious difficulties in everyday life. It was only after I have signed up for the course and attended a few classes that I realised the significance of regular studies and expanding of one’s knowledge.
Why did you decide to study English overseas, and especially Singapore? Any reasons why you had chosen us in particular?
When I arrived here, I shortly attended another institution for studying English. I took the course there for only a month. The very reason I was not attracted to that place was that most of students were Koreans and Japanese. During classroom discussions or group projects, it was not only difficult to keep myself motivated in using proper English, but I could hardly find someone to correct my wrong expressions or pronunciation. I found myself making the same mistakes over and over again. I needed a place which could provide me with qualified teachers and organised classes.
How has your improved level of English changed your life here in Singapore?
Most importantly, I feel much more confident when answering my phone now. During the last couple of years whenever my phone rang, I used to panic because I couldn’t understand most of the conversations. I have gained confidence as my English improves, which has enabled me to learn more about as well as enjoy promotions even over the phone. Not to mention, I also find it easy to gain access to essential information on my own. I don’t need to ask for other people’s help for tasks such as reading the tax renewal notice or opening accounts in a local bank.
Do you like Singapore? What are the things you like about this country?
As for me, Singapore is a place where the East and the West converge. I can find everything and everybody from each country here. Knowing and experiencing various cultures and unique, tasty foods always makes me excited. As I catch and understand more words, TV channels such as TLC, Asian Food Channel and Discovery have brought me into an inspiring, whole new world. If I hadn’t had a chance to live in Singapore, my future would be a very different from the one I dream of now.
Education is a good chance to acquire friends. Students get to learn a new language and make many new friends from around the world. How about you? Have you made many friends through British Council?
My current class consists of lovely ladies from Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Thailand, Romania, Japan and Korea. And last but not least, my excellent teacher, Anita is from Northern Ireland. During classes, we share our thoughts, feelings, traditions and customs of each country. Of course, I have found and made lots of friends here which made me feel that this is a small world that we are all living in.
What challenges and difficulties have you encountered during your learning journey? How are you trying to overcome them?
Many Korean students like me learned English from textbooks and have strength in written English or grammar. But when it comes to speaking or listening, I have to admit that I am struggling until now. For example, at times, I have discovered that a very familiar word can have a totally different meaning and way for usage.
Furthermore, lots of idioms and their own ways of expressions have always prevented me from understanding what others are trying to say. For the listening part, I have watched a lot of television and tried to be familiar with new expressions. However for the speaking part, I needed a partner who would communicate with me and a good teacher who could correct my expressions and pronunciations. Since I’ve attended class at the British Council, whenever my teacher corrects my mistakes, I would rewrite the sentence and practise it repeatedly, as my lovely teacher Anita has always advised me.
What advice or tips would you give to others who would like to improve their English?
First of all, I would like to recommend making lots of English-speaking friends, and meeting them regularly. That would be very helpful. Be accustomed to their expressions and try to use them in your daily lives and make them yours. Like people say, practice does make perfect!