As a little girl, Yoon Jung-yeon of Korea was fascinated by the beautiful princesses in Walt Disney books and movies. There was just one problem: She couldn’t understand a word of the stories. It’s what inspired her to learn English, and eventually go on to win the TOEFL® scholarship.
Yoon Jung-yeon was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad through middle school and high school. But she says it takes more than just exposure to become fluent in a new language. Here are a few tips she offers based on her experience:
- Develop your vocabulary by reading everything you can. Write down and look up any words you do not understand.
“Without knowing vocabulary, you will never be able to express what you really want to say. Vocabulary books are handy when you are preparing for certain exams, but I recommend having firsthand experiences with vocabulary through authentic texts.”
- Write journals in English daily.
“When we journal, we tend to write as if we are conversing with our friends. Using this technique, we can practice written language as well as colloquial language.”
- Gain as much exposure to the language as you can. Not just living in English-speaking countries, but surrounding yourself with the language.
“My love for the Disney princesses helped so much. After understanding the vocabulary they used, my ears began to open up; and slowly, I was starting to understand what the characters were saying. I watched these movies over and over, without the subtitles, because it allows you to experience the culture and colloquial language, helping your speaking skills as well.”
Yoon Jung-yeon went on to major in English Literature at Korea University. Her journey may have started with a fairy tale, but now she’s actively making her dreams come true!
Make planning for your education overseas a little easier with these study abroad tips and resources