Written By: Marta Pelrine-Bacon (ESL Instructor, Intensive American English Institute)
For one reason or another, the idea of coming to America takes hold of you. You think long and hard about this decision. You save money. You plan. You find a school to attend and get your paperwork in order. You ponder what to pack and what to leave behind. You say goodbye to friends and family. You arrive in America.
After all your effort, what happens on the first day of school when you walk into the classroom and meet your teacher and your classmates? Will things work like they do back home? Maybe. But you don’t need to learn the hard way. Here are simple steps to make a good first impression.
- Be on time. If a schedule states a class starts at 9 a.m., it really starts at 9 a.m. Punctuality shows that you respect the teacher and your classmates and that you’re serious about your studies.
- Be prepared. Bring paper and a pen or pencil. You will need these on the very first day. Having to borrow basic supplies never makes a good impression.
- Have an open mind. You’re going to meet people from many other countries. Be interested in your classmates, and don’t be surprised if they are interested in you. You have a great opportunity to learn about other areas of the world.
- Be curious! Ask questions about the school, about Austin, about America. The curious learn and gain more from their time in the United States.
- Pay attention. You’re here to improve your English. Focus. You can’t learn by being only physically present in class. You have to be mentally in class as well. Your teacher will appreciate it too.
- Set goals. Why are you studying English? What do you want from this experience? You’ll learn more if you know what your goals are. Your teacher will also be better able to help you.
- Turn off your phone! Show respect to your teacher. Put your phone away during class. If you don’t know a word, ask your teacher, not your phone. You’ll have breaks to text and check social media. Being on your phone during class is a sure-fire way to make a bad impression.
Studying in another country is both a challenge and a wonderful opportunity. You can learn a great deal in and out of the classroom. Start your experience off the best way possible.