By: Lee Wen/ Topic: Learning English Abroad
I am Lee Wen “Coco” from Taiwan. Well, I have a good job in my country and sometimes I meet foreign customers. I introduce my company to them and there are times when I can’t express my thoughts correctly. With this reason aside from finding English interesting, I decided to take a vacation from work and study English in Pines. I chose the premium course originally but since I also wanted to meet foreign friends, I took the intensive course that still entails me to interact with other students through the 2-hour group class.
1. Learning English the Intensive Way
When I attended writing, speaking, reading and creative learning classes, I realized that I was only using basic words. I learned a lot in these classes especially in my reading class. I know the basic pronunciation of the words, but there are rules in achieving American accent and pronunciation, so my teacher makes sure I follow these rules. For example, I used to pronounce “twenty” with T sound, but my teacher pronounces it as “tweny” with a slight T sound drop. In my writing class, I learned some rules that I know I will be using in the future even though I don’t write letters or make presentations in my job. I think my course is balanced as I have enough time to study listening, speaking and writing.
I was also introduced to using idioms upon coming here. After reading the passage on the textbook, my teacher would ask me to make a sentence using the idiom right away. She told me to guess the meaning of the idioms by reading from the beginning of the story till the end. By doing this, I am able to remember the meaning of the words or idioms better. I would use these idioms in conversing or in writing. Maybe people would think I’m good in English if they see my writing compositions with some idioms in it. (:-D)
I also love my teachers. I know that every teacher has his/ her own personality. During my first days here, I asked my consultant if I can change my level because I think the content of one of my books is a bit easy. My consultant explained to me that it is balanced. Perhaps I am good at speaking or reading, but I need to improve on my writing or listening skills. It is indeed true. As I took my writing class, I couldn’t understand the grammar like, “do I need to use the base form of a verb or verb- ing?”. I like my Creative Writing teacher because she breaks down the sentence and explain the structure like what’s the object, subject, etc. Furthermore, she provides more idioms and words which are not found on the book. It’s really challenging, but I love the teacher’s teaching style. When I can’t understand something from what we’ve read, she will make a sentence and let me guess the meaning. It’s very different in my country because the teacher will give the word, the meaning and some sample sentences. All I need to do is remember the details. On the other hand, Pines teachers wanted me to practice and use these words more often. I guess this is a better way of memorizing the words/ expressions.
2. Getting the Perks of Option Class
I want to tell you about my option class. I registered for the Vocabulary Master because I know that my weakness is vocabulary. The learning style is definitely different. In my country, we learned about phrases, idioms and sentences, but we don’t take exams. My teacher here gives us 20 vocabulary words every night and we have to find their definition. Then the following day, we take the spelling test. We also need to use the words in a sentence. It’s challenging but useful.
I think I have improved so much in using idioms and pronouncing words. Now, I can say that I am more familiar with the American Accent rules.
3. Overcoming Doubts and Uncertainty
I have an experience here during the second week of my stay. I can have the Optional Placement Test, but I was thinking about it twice. At that time, I was really nervous because I was afraid that if I fail, I’ll be disappointed and if I pass, I need to go to Chapis. I love my roommates and my teachers in main campus, so I don’t want to leave them. My mother and my brother helped me make a decision regarding this issue. My brother said, “come on, you went there to study. You didn’t go there to make friends.” I took the OPT but eventually, I didn’t pass. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel disappointed. It only meant that there are still things that I needed to learn and improve.
4. Spending My Weekends
I chose Baguio because I think this place is better for studying. On Saturday morning, I just relax. In the afternoon, I and my friends go shopping or drop by places like public market, SM, night market or massage spa. I have Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese friends. We tried a lot of restaurants in Baguio. On Sunday night, I study because every Monday, I have a vocabulary test.
When I have spare time on the weekend, I spend it lying on my bed and watching American dramas. Even if there is Chinese subtitle, I think watching English dramas improves my listening skill. There are times when I’m tempted to watch Korean dramas, but I always stop myself.
5. Recommending Pines to Others
I have already recommended Pines to my friends and will continue to do so. I always post on Instagram about my life in Pines like when I’m self-studying and also when I go to some restaurants around Baguio. My friends saw those posts and they asked me where those photos were taken. I told them that it’s taken at Pines Academy in Baguio City .
Finally, I would want to say thank you to all my teachers. I plan to send postcards upon coming back to Taiwan. To those who are studying in Baguio and for those who are planning to come here to study English, don’t think that the place is boring. You just need to focus on fun things and your purpose. For example, the food in here is totally different with the food in my country. Korean cuisine is served. I find this cool because it’s like I am experiencing two countries at the same time.These experiences changed my life.