Saaya Inoue studied with us for five months of Full-time English courses, from November to March, and achieved an IELTS score of 7.0. Read what she has to say about studying English at the British Council and how if you make an effort to immerse yourself and have fun then you really will improve!
You come from Japan. Why did you choose to come and study at the British Council in Singapore?
Because the British Council is also quite famous in Japan as a school which has great experience and history. I was also familiar with the British Council as a cultural institution through my career as a promotions manager and an event organizer.
Do you feel you made a lot of improvement? Which part of your English improved the most?
Yes, I found a lot of improvement in all aspects. Especially, I feel my speaking skills have improved noticeably. When I started courses, I could not make longer sentences while I was speaking. I think I was scared to make mistakes. I just used words separately, but thanks to many opportunities to speak in classes and with friends after classes, I found it more important to use many words than to worry too much about accuracy. Then I began to think in English and this made my speaking improve a lot.
What things do you find difficult about using English? How did the British Council help you with these?
When I took several courses, I found that I need more opportunities to speak with native speakers. Although I felt some improvement I thought it was not enough to use for work. So I had a talk with Ed Gibbons (Senior Teacher Adults) and he advised me to have a language exchange with a native speaker who want to study Japanese. He asked all the staff in the British Council and found a teacher for me! We met 5 times and had chats in English for one hour and in Japanese for one hour. These helped me to have more confidence to speak with native speakers.
You attended a lot of myClub student activities and excursions. How did these help you? Did you have a favourite?!
I attended conversation clubs, pronunciation clubs and clubs for IELTS. myClub offered me many tips for self study and opportunities to make friends. I also joined a trip to Kusu Island. The British Council offered us a bus to the pier. It was really fun and I was able to relax a lot.
Do you have any advice or tips for people who are thinking of learning English or already doing so?
I recommend you to use English for fun not only for study. When I watched movies or read books just for fun, I felt I made a lot of improvement. If the topic is something you are interested in, you can absorb a lot and you learn more naturally. In addition, I took advantage of studying in foreign country, I tried to immerse myself totally and not to talk and read Japanese language as much as possible. I also spoke English even when I talk with a Japanese classmates. In the beginning, you may feel very uncomfortable but you would be accustomed to it soon.
Will you continue to study when you are back in Japan?
Yes, I want to. Although I think it is a bit difficult to study as much as when I studied in Singapore, I will try to keep practicing by using online speaking services and texting with my friends.
Would you recommend the British Council Singapore to friends? Why (not)?
Yes, I would. As I expected before I started studying, they can offer us great opportunities to improve English. They can support us as a powerful institution and the staff are dedicated.