Learning American English Enhances Fulbright Experience
At the beginning of my Fulbright experience, I took Long-Term English classes at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to prepare me for my master’s studies. It was a good place to transition between home and starting school in the United States. The classes were very friendly and helped me improve my academic writing and reading, and hone my analytical and critical thinking skills. These classes and activities also gave me access to American culture and life, which helped me ease my way into engaging with my new community.
As a student at the British Council in Egypt for four years, it seemed difficult to make this shift from British English to American English so quickly, especially the accent and pronunciation. Fortunately, the Long-Term English course at RIT made it easier for me although — truth be told — it was still challenging.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that academic language is different from daily spoken language. The language used to express academic ideas, whether in writing or aloud, must follow specific techniques, such as hedging and logical sequence.
These classes prepared me for my master’s program, and I believe they will help me with writing future papers and conducting research. The courses taught me how to read academic writing, better comprehend the ideas presented, and how to use them as sources within my own work.
These classes also taught me about American life outside the classroom. I’ve learned that the United States is a melting pot with different nationalities, races, religions, and cultures. This community is rich, welcoming, and understanding, and we cannot judge all Americans as the same.
I’d urge all Fulbrighters to engage with the American community and participate in its development in order to transfer the advantages of this society back to their home communities and to have a clear and accurate understanding of American culture. I believe my time studying English at RIT helped me gain a better understanding of both American English and culture.
Mohamed is studying religious studies at Temple University and is from Egypt.
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