By Diego Luis
Back when I was living my last few months in Venezuela, I would sometimes ask myself how was I going to deal with the fact that I am no longer going to live in a country where Spanish is the main language and how the cultural impact will affect the way I’m used to living. To be honest I felt scared, I didn’t know if my adaptation was going to be easy. After spending almost 2 months in Boston, I can fortunately say that my adaptation to this new country has been very easy and the language barrier hasn’t been too much of a problem and I am glad to say that I have the Community Learning class because it has had positive impact on me and it has had major influence on me adapting quickly to Boston.
One of the things that facilitates the adaptation of an immigrant when they move to another country is knowing the language spoken in that country. This class has helped me improve my English skills in many ways which has contributed on my adaptation to this new country. I believe that the only way someone can truly learn a language is by practicing it. I really like the rule implied by Instructor Lisa of only allowing students to speak English, by having this rule we are forced to practice our English in our class activities and this leads on the improvement of our listening and talkative skills. Normally, the class activities consists of discussions in which the instructor chooses a topic and we have to choose a side and then later on explain why everyone made their choice. Also, having to elaborate a discussion about a certain topic every week has helped me improve my writing skills, the discussions can’t be too short so we need to use critical thinking and write long and profound responses. Never in my life had I been assigned to write an assignment in English, therefore I think this is the perfect way to improve the way I write. I have also improved my intercultural skills significantly. I used to live in a very homogeneous society where everyone spoke the same language and everyone kind of had the same cultural values and that is one of the reasons that I decided to move to this great city. I wanted a change so I knew I was going to find myself with people from all over the world here. When I got to Boston, I immediately felt the change. I have met people from all around the world, specifically people from Asia. Almost everyone in the class is from China and I see this as a perfect opportunity for me to learn about different cultures and also exchange cultural traits and ways of thinking which is truly why I think this class is helping me with my intercultural skills.
In order for a person that comes from another country to learn a language quickly is by practicing it as often as possible. Me personally, I have been taking advantage of all my classes, which is where I speak the most English, to practice with my classmates and my professors as much as I can. Regarding our class work, I consider myself as someone who likes to volunteer to speak first, this is the perfect way for me to practice my speaking and my pronunciation. Also, in our class discussions, where we often have to choose a side depending on the topic, I always express my point of view and why I made my decision. These types of activities are very helpful for us the students, it helps us improve our conversational skills; therefore, we learn how to express ourselves better. Whenever we are assigned to write our online discussions, I always try to write profound responses rather than simple and short response because this is the time for me to practice my vocabulary and the way I express myself through writing.
Its feels weird for me to say that we only have 6 weeks left of the semester [as of late-October]. The time that I have been here has been positive, I have learned a lot of new material, my English has improved significantly, and I have met new and wonderful people. For the remainder of the semester, I will just continue on doing what I have been doing, which is taking advantage of everything that is offered to me in this class. I will continue being active and participating on our class as much as I can by giving my ideas and my point of views. Also, one of my goals is to get better at writing, so in the few discussions that we have left I want to write better and more profound answers because this is a very useful way to improve my English skills. One thing that I want to do is instead of going to my service work once a week, I want to start going at least two times a week. I really like the work environment in the Boston Scholar Athletes organization and I feel that I am causing a positive impact for my community by helping these kids on their school assignments.
After spending two months living in a Boston I am glad and happy to say that this time has been nothing but positive to me, I wouldn’t have thought my English would get so much better in such little time and the Community Learning class is a major reason for that. I feel lucky that the American Classroom offers this class because this is very helpful class for us international students. I will continue on working hard on this class and I hope that my future in Northeastern will be as successful and positive as the time that I have been in this class.
Diego is a student in Community Learning, a course in the American Classroom Program that focuses on acclimating international students to Boston and it’s communities during their first year at Northeastern.