Griffith College: Improving your English skills – or else?

Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle

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‘Work on your English’, ‘What is your English level?’, ‘Did you take the TOEFL test?’, ‘How good is your English?’. Today, being a non-native English speaking student is all about learning Shakespeare’s language. A lot of them have decided to improve it at Griffith College in Dublin.

Image Credit: Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle
Image Credit: Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle

Depending on which country you’re living in, it gets easier, or not… to actually learn this tricky, vicious and unfair language in terms of preposition, but no less essential.

On Eduation First website, the world’s largest educational company, Scandinavians appear to be better English speakers than people from the Mediterranean countries. Indeed, who hasn’t heard about the exotic – mostly for English speaker – but terrible for most of the others, French accent? Italian and Spanish aren’t spared either.

Griffith College currently counts 77 different nationalities. At first sight, it thus seems to be an amazing place to learn English with great facilities for international students. Well it is… but only if you actually find Irish somewhere…

Freshly arrived, you’ll first meet your roommates if you live on campus. If one nationality isn’t gathered in one flat, mostly there won’t be any Irish student as they ’re mostly living outside the campus.

Image Credit: World Bank Photo Collection / flickr
Image Credit: World Bank Photo Collection / flickr

Finally, you manage to go to class where it might be the only place you’ll talk with a native English speaker, alternatively called: your teacher.

Last Thursday, in the Investigative Journalism, lecturer Barry Finnegan had to face five students: three French, one Brazilian and one Swedish. According to Aude Le Pomellec, French student in Business and Finance, there are approximately five Irish persons out of seventy in the classroom.

She’s been at Griffith since September and for her, “going to class is the only way to improve your English”. She thinks “there is no cohesion created by the college, especially for international students”.

Brazilian Jadh Gonzales, who arrived a month age, agrees: « I was surprised because I thought that in an Irish university, most students would be Irish”. She knows it is a good thing to learn more about international cultures but not to improve her English. “I would have liked to have more Irish classmates”.

Even Dr. Kevin O’Flynn, who is recommended by Griffith in the college handbook, speaks other languages and adapts himself according to his patient’s nationality.

Credit Image: Jordan/flickr
Credit Image: Jordan/flickr

Of course if you stay with people from another country, you will still improve your language skills, just by speaking. However, they won’t be able to tell you every time you make a mistake, especially when it’s about specific expressions. For instance, the French equivalent of “when pigs fly” is “when chickens will have teeth”… Obviously, these might be confusing in a conversation…

The pronunciation is also important and apart from having a complete bilingual buddy, a foreigner won’t be able to correct you and to teach you the right saying. Your best friend Google translate won’t be helpful either.

Manon Gustave is one of the exceptions. According to her, “Griffith is the best place to learn English”. Half of her class is Irish and some others moved to Ireland a long time ago. “I became close to my classmates, I am even dating an Irish!”, she says with a big smile.

The large international presence at Griffith takes away from the experience of being in Ireland and immersing oneself in the culture. However, and this is most of the locals’ point of view, surround yourself with English speaking people, be it a peer group or a team group that train together once or twice a week. Be brave and don’t stay in your comfort zone with your countrymen and women.

What about you? Where do you friends come from and did you improve your English?

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Tiphaine Paucot-Landelle