Library and Information Science Miscellaneous

This weblog in the field of Library and Information Science contains news, comments and everything that its bloggers think could be useful for LIS professionals and students. It is maintianed by a number of students mainly Research students and Iranian. Our email is lismisblog at Yahoo dot com.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Overseas Students' Difficulties -2

English as a second language

I wrote previously about the problems of studying in overseas (here). Loneliness and losing the relationship with other people was described. The second important issue is the language. We have been learning English for a long time in our previous studies. Starting just after the primary school, we were taught English for seven years during our school education. In undergraduate programs, English is one of the courses all students have to attend and once again we had a close relation with English in our postgraduate studies.

Altogether, we have been learning English as a second language for, at least, 10 years in Iran. After such a long time, one would hope to have a good knowledge of English. However, as you know, our language-teaching system is not perfect and usually the English programs concentrate on grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension, rather than everyday conversation and communication skills.

As an example, imagine two Iranian people learning English in different situations. The first one has been taught English as a part of his/her school and academic education and the second one has been living in an English-speaking country during the same time and has learnt English through working and living with native speakers. The first person is probably perfect in English grammar, comprehension, translation and even writing, however the second one will be more fluent in his/her day to day communication, listening and speaking.

Most overseas research students are similar with the first case. We can read and understand English books and journals – especially in the field of LIS. Usually we can translate English articles in Persian and maybe we write in English correctly. But we have many difficulties in listening and speaking English – two important communicational skills. Three to five years completing a Ph.D. in an English-speaking country forces us to improve our fluency in English. We need to communicate with people in their own language to meet our daily living needs. Shopping, travel, health care, recreation and education are major areas in which we should speak with people in English.

In summary, there are few opportunities for international research students to improve their English speaking skill through daily communications. Whether our Offer is conditional or not, personally I think it is useful and even necessary for all research students to attend in a suitable English course at least for one month immediately after arriving to the host country. Language learning must be more difficult for our friends in the non-English speaking countries such as France and Denmark because they have to learn a new language plus English.


  • At 1:00 PM, Blogger Azam said…

    I agree with you completely. The matter is that Iranian people have not learned English in their daily life. For instance, we had not watched English movies in my country. It has been campaigned against English words to save Persian words in a wrong way. These reasons among other reasons are reasons of our disabilities in English language. It is more tangible for me in a non-English country, Denmark. Official language in Denmark is Danish, but Danish people speak English very well and professional, even old people and children. They have a lot of common words with English language. It is not necessary at all to learn Danish language for us. Danish people are very eager to speak English because they think that they improve their English language by this way. Thus, foreign people, who don’t know Danish, don’t have any serious problem. As soon as I can, I'll write something about Denmark and especially about Royal school of Library and Information science.

  • At 3:55 AM, Blogger saeid said…

    Yes. As you said we don't have a second language in Iran. Many countries such as Arabic countries use English as their second language easily.



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