“I only understand about 50% of my lectures”

Kaori Takei, 21, is a student from Japan studying Aspects of Illustration at Harrow campus. Like many overseas students, particularly from the far east, she has difficulty in studying in an English speaking environment and communicating with home students. She talked to Simon Lau.

Kaori Takei: problems communicating“The course I am taking here is about the history of illustrators and it is mostly home students who take the course. I do not have enough confidence to speak in front of other students because I’m afraid they might think my English is incorrect.

We have to make a ten-minute presentation in front of other students and the teacher and I am a bit nervous. We have to do the presentation in groups of three, and the other two people in my group are also Japanese.

We need to hand in some writing as well and I think that my grade will go down because of my bad English. I would prefer it if I was given more time to prepare for this presentation.

When students ask questions to the lecturer I have difficulty understanding what they are saying. I don’t speak much to the home students because I feel shy about approaching them. I want to communicate with other students but really it is quite difficult to talk to them because I get the feeling that they might be irritated by my poor English. They probably find it easier to communicate with other home students.

Sometimes I try to speak up in the class. The teacher asks me a question and I try to answer. But there have been times when I have misheard the question and I give the wrong answer. Other students help me out, though, and explain the question to me.
If I were more confident in speaking English, I would speak more in the class. In Japan, students rarely speak out, but in this country, I feel it is part of the culture and I am not used to it.

I think our lecturer is very nice. However, during lectures I have trouble catching the name of the illustrator being talked about. I try to spell it and then go home and check it using books or the internet.

I would guess that I only understand about 50% of my lectures. If I could understand it a bit more then it would be better.

I don’t think that foreign students should copy from books or the internet when writing essays. It is too easy to do that and they must show their own opinions. However, I can see that they have pressure to perform well and that influences their grade.

I wanted to come to England because it is a good chance to study in a different country. It is good that overseas students can study here, but I think the minimum level of English the university says you need is too low. The reality is different from what I expected.”

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