An interview with General English student - Sally Kim 김성희

35 years old Sally Kim Sung Hee [김성희] studied from Foundation 4 to Academic 5 with British Council.

First, can you tell us something about yourself?

Hi, my name is Sunghee Kim. I am from Seoul and came to Singapore to study English and work. I am working for SK Planet.

As a Korean in Singapore, how do you feel about taking classes for English and English Culture?

In Korea, I used to be exposed to an American English environment but after coming here, I had to adapt to Singaporean English and British English. So, at the start, it was not easy to understand and tell the difference. However, taking classes for English at British Council Singapore is very attractive as there is a chance to study together with people from all over the world.

As a student of the British Council, will you be able to identify its weak and strong points?

Strong teaching skills are one of the strongest points about British Council. Almost every teacher has high energy and passion for teaching. In class I was never allowed to passively sit during the whole class, as teachers always give tasks to us so that all students can participate actively together – in thinking, speaking, moving and acting. This shows that teachers know how to deliver lessons in an effective manner. Frankly, I went to other language schools first before attending British Council Singapore. At that time, I had realised that this could be a waste of my time, because the teachers just read textbooks and solve questions together. If somebody wants just high scores without learning the language properly, they could easily just study in Korea. 

Singapore is multi-racial, and so how does it feel mixing with friends from these various races?

The variety of student nationalities is another strong point in British Council Singapore. Even though Singapore is a multi-national country, over 80% students are usually Japanese, Chinese and Korean in many language institutions. That’s why many of my Asian classmates moved to British Council from other schools. At school, classmates are a very important factor because students learn not only from the teacher but also from each other. I had 16 classmates from over 12 countries. We learned one another’s cultures and understood the differences. In the real world, we are not only exposed to America and British English. After meeting my classmates from all over the world, I started to understand their lifestyles and how to communicate better with them.

How helpful do you think the British Council programmes will be for your future? 

I have had many chances to work with foreigners, after studying here I became more confident and have improved my English skills so I think I work better.

Moreover, I met really nice friends from other countries. I will keep in touch with my international friends.

Did you have any difficulties when you first took up these programmes? How did you overcome them, did you receive any extra help from anyone?

It had been a while since I used English, so I struggled during the very first month of my studies.  I actively reached out to the school for help and received plenty of support, for example, having a separate writing class, etc. When I had taken a class-level assignment test in the beginning, I got a score that was a little bit lower than what was expected of my level. I wanted to find out my exact class level, so I requested a senior teacher to recommend the levels of other classes that would be better for me to adapt to. I studied hard and, after the final exam, they allowed me to jump up to a class of a higher level. 

At the same time, whenever I feel a need for extra lessons and help such as having a mock speaking test, I would just ask and the school has always found a way to assist me.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that one should not hesitate when in doubt, but to ask for help proactively if one is experiencing any difficulties in school. 

Do you think these programmes are up to par and of a high calibre?

Yes, I think so. As I mentioned, British Council has a very powerful curriculum and they know how to teach effectively. I think British Council is the best English school in Singapore. This is not just my opinion, but most of my classmates agree on this.

You must have fond memories of your time at the British Council, what would you pick as your favourite?

So many things. From school I have met really nice friends and enjoyed studying here. In October, we had a Cultural Fair in British Council. I joined the event as a representative from Korea, sharing how Koreans celebrate a baby’s 1st birthday party, and people loved it. Also I learned about many different countries and their cultures. Oh, you may check out YouTube, under the video titled ‘British Council Cultural Fair 2013’.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences here, especially for readers in Malaysia and Singapore?

I think that main readers of Korean Press are perhaps not just only teenagers but also many '아줌마' like myself. I don’t know if this was a coincidence, however, I have met many different age groups in here from teenagers to over 60. Although they didn’t need any score, they really studied hard and enjoyed making new friends. I hope many Koreans have the opportunity to meet other groups of people from all around the world, not just from the Korean community. 

Last but not least, if you decide to study in British Council, use their programs 100% and feel free ask for as much help as possible if you want to succeed.