I have been debating in myself if I should write this entry because I thought it is too much based on my personal experience and doesn't apply to anyone else. However, giving a second thought, I thought it may make sense to show some (real) example to iKnow users who is planning to study abroad or did already. In best case scenario, some people who live outside Japan may share what I have experienced. So, I decided to write something about it. It would be great if you can stay with me, although it would be a relatively long story...
Ten years ago, I graduated from a collage in Japan and came to NY for a graduate study. The collage I went had the required ESL course for freshmen and widely accepted students from abroad in September (separate from the regular April entrance). I majored in linguistics and studied computer science. Once I got interested in a field called computational linguistics, it was a reasonable option for me to go and study abroad as well as to apply a grad school in Japan. Luckily, NYU accepted me. That was the start of my life in US.
Presentations are not so required in a CS course compared to other field -- a class usually consists of lecture and programming assignments. I could manage to handle course assignments from the MS program and some fundamental courses from PhD program. I was able to read and understand the textbooks and lectures and ask questions if necessary. My grade wasn't too bad either.
I have always had a complex about my English. As I progressed in the program, I had more opportunities to do presentations. Once I started my own research in PhD program, more writing and speaking was required as presentations to the group, writing research papers, and presentations at academic conferences... It was not like a battle -- it WAS a battle especially for a person with English complex like myself.
My adviser was a Japanese who could manage his communication with his boss and his colleagues at conferences even in his relatively poor English. So, I believed that there are some needed skills for good communications and logical thinking which is independent from what language you speak. I tried to learn such skills in various ways, but not so successful. According to my adviser, they should be learned in the course works or research life. He couldn't explain more or give anything concrete. My presentations and papers were (still are) very poor and hard to be understood. It was hard to perceive how much I got improved during my student life at NYU.
It turned out in a good way, looking back now. After 7 years of school life, I started working at my current company (becoming a 社会人). My experience at NYU is still working for me even after three years of the current employment which virtually involve no research.
Well, I digressed. Sorry about that...
That's my background and here is the summary of my spec in terms of English (like MST102)...
- Stayed in the US for 10 yrs (as a student for 7 yrs, as a FT employee for 3 yrs)
- TOEIC ... Never taken
- TOEFL ... once I got 600
- Many experiences of having presentations in English. But still, I'm not good at it.
- In iKnow dictation, I can get 50% correct for prepositions at the first trial (without re-listening the sentence). But I can hardly get right between "the" and possessive pronouns.
- 70% of words in GMAT Verbal are new to me.
- I only read books in my field and rarely follow the news on TV or newspapers, so my vocabulary is biased.
I'll discuss the main topic (remember, Why I started iKnow) in the next post.