Studying abroad presents language barriers in some countries

Studying abroad in a non-English speaking country versus an English speaking country is a decision that every student who plans to study abroad has to make.

But a student also has the option of taking classes in English while studying abroad in a non-English speaking country.

“I would do it again,” said junior Christopher Bynoe.

Bynoe studied abroad in the fall of 2012 in Vina Del Mar, Chile, at Universidad Viña del Mar, UVM. He studied abroad through Academic Programs International.

Bynoe lived with a host family that he did not know prior to going abroad. The mother of the family knew no English, but the brother knew some English. However, the sister and father knew even less English.

Bynoe tested out of Spanish I and II at St. Edward’s University. However, he chose to take Spanish III at St. Edward’s. 

Bynoe took a language placement test prior to going to Chile and was placed into beginner Spanish at the college he was going to be attending. But he wanted a challenge and decided to take classes that were taught at an intermediate level of Spanish.

Bynoe did not feel prepared taking classes in Spanish, but he passed all of his classes and ended up learning a lot more Spanish.

“I just kind of jumped into it,” Bynoe said.

Bynoe said that he also did not know much about the country or culture prior to going to Chile. Also, Chilean Spanish was quite different than the kind of Spanish he was used to. He said that while speaking, Chileans would leave out s’s and d’s in words. Therefore, the biggest obstacle for Bynoe was the language barrier.

Bynoe said that students should not be discouraged to go abroad, whether it is because of finances or language barriers.

However, studying abroad at the St. Edward’s Angers campus poses a different kind of experience and challenge for students.

Junior Brittany Williamson studied abroad in Angers, France at Universite Catholique de l’Ouest through the faculty-led program in the spring 2012.

Students who study abroad through the faculty-led program are not required to take any French before going abroad, but they are required to take at least one French class abroad, Williamson said.

Williamson tested out of French I and II at St. Edward’s University and decided to take French III her freshman year. While abroad, she took French III again. Although she was taking St. Edward’s classes with St. Edward’s professors, a professor at the Universite Catholique de l’Ouest taught her French class.

“I think everyone that has a chance to do it should do it,” Williamson said.

Studying abroad in an English speaking country can be just as difficult.

Junior Katie Heim studied abroad in the summer of 2012 in London, England at Richmond University.

The program she went abroad with was the American Institute for Study Abroad.

“It wasn’t as difficult if you went where they didn’t speak English,” Heim said.

However, Heim said that it was hard to understand and catch on to certain phrases or words they said in London. For example, one word that proved difficult was when they said “rubbish.” Heim said that it was easier to understand people in the city versus the countryside though. The accents were harder to understand in the countryside.

Heim said her biggest challenge in England was her internship.

Heim interned for Time & Leisure Magazine and found it difficult to write for her internship because of the different spelling of words and word usage.

However, Heim advised that students not have reservations about studying abroad in an English-speaking country.

“Don’t worry that it’s not going to be different enough…[it’s a] completely different culture,” Heim said.