By: A.J. Dixon
The fall 2015 academic term is now complete, and another cohort of English for Academic Success (EFAS) students has shown true dedication learning English at the Renison English Langauge Institute. To celebrate this success, Tanya Missere-Mihas, director of the English Language Centre, and Elizabeth Matthews, assistant director of the EFAS program, honoured the students with the highest marks this past term in each of the four levels of the EFAS:
- Level 100: Sang Woo Rheu
- Level 200: Shangru Li
- Level 300: Zhenyang Gao
- Level 400: Ana Maria Murcia Espitia
Each of the four students was personally presented with an award highlighting their outstanding achievement, and had their pictures taken with the Missere-Mihas and Matthews.
Achieving academic success in an English language program designed to meet the rigorous English language requirements of the University of Waterloo and other post-secondary institutions can be challenging to say the least, which is why each of the award winners was asked about their experience in EFAS, as well as any advice they could pass-on to prospective students. Thankfully for the writer, none of the top-achievers were shy about sharing their experiences!
Sang Woo Rheu of Korea was very excited to learn English in Canada, but said he had some difficulty adjusting to life in Waterloo at first. “I didn’t have any Korean friends, which was challenging for me…however (studying) at Renison was very helpful for me as I could make (non-Korean) friends,” which Rheu found helpful in improving his English language skills.
Zhenyang Gao of Beijing, China, agreed that the transition to an immersive English language learning environment at the English Language Institute was initially quite demanding. “Written English can be very different from oral English, and I needed a lot of practice to learn to write in English in an academic way.” Gao was quick to point out however, that immersing one’s self in English-speaking culture and speaking English with others was really important.
“I think the only way to learn English better is practising more and more often, and always using English to communicate. For instance, I usually practise a lot after class in many ways, including reading English books, talking with friends, and watching English movies.”
Speaking English as much as possible was as common piece of advice from all of the top-achievers. Shangru Li, who is planning on doing a master’s degree in software engineering at the University of Waterloo after completing EFAS, said the chance to speak English with students and instructors gave him the opportunity to greatly improve his listening and speaking skills in English, which was quite different than what he was used to back home. “In China, students just learn English from textbooks, but have less of a chance to speak it” said Li. It is no surprise then, that when Li was asked for advice on how to be successful in the EFAS program, he said “Be confident! Don’t be afraid to speak English.”
Ana Maria Murica Espitia of Colombia, our highest-achieving 400 level EFAS graduate, plans on either studying finance or completing an MBA now that she has finished the EFAS program. Like her fellow high-achievers, Murcia Espitia believes that developing a good balance between her studies and her social life was the key to helping her succeed in the EFAS program. Her advice to others?
“Organize your time between fun activities and academic activities; make friends from different countries; and enjoy the new experience!”
With that advice in mind, all of the staff and instructors at the Renison English Language Institute wishes the fall term’s high-achievers the very best in their future endeavours, with the added promise to pass on the award-winners’ words of wisdom to future EFAS students.
About the Renison English Language Institute
The Renison English Language Institute (Renison ELI) has offered high quality English as a second language (ESL) programs and courses since 1970. We welcome more than 1000 students each year to Renison University College.
Housed within Renison ELI are the English Language Centre (ELC) and English Language Studies (ELS). We invite you to explore our programs and courses, and look forward to welcoming you to the Renison community.