Studying and working in English as a second language

Studying and working in English as a second language

Are you preparing to come to the UK to work or to study? Is English your second language? To prepare for the year ahead, whether you are starting a job or beginning to study for a new degree, you will require a lot of energy to focus on new material and develop new skills. This is because your brain will be busy processing new information, while at the same time learning about new ways of working. 

Adjusting to a different culture

For most of us, when we travel to another country for work or study, we need time to adjust to the differences in culture, environment, and different ways of working.  Initially, you may notice that your sleep pattern changes, and you may feel tired as a result.

The change of environment will affect how you structure your day. It will be good to create a flexible routine so that you can manage your energy. It will help to adjust and improve your ability to work well. The routine will allow you to manage your various commitments and create space for activities to meet new people.

Managing your energy is fundamental to feel well and confident as you go about your day.

Communicating in a second language:
Studying in a second language tends to require extra energy to process the new information you are learning, and then to apply it to develop your language skills. Your brain will need more energy to maintain your focus to learn new things to adjust to the different ways of working and studying in your host country.

At first, you may feel a bit self-conscious about speaking in English.  

Although you may worry about not being able to speak/write well yet, do not let this prevent you from practising the language. Practise speaking and writing as much as you can. 

Instead of trying to speak the language without errors, keep in mind that what matters is to communicate with others. It will take time to become more proficient, and gradually you will feel more confident in your language skills.
 If you do not understand something, do ask others to repeat, and they will be understanding as they also want to communicate with you. 

Adapting to a new situation
As you start your new job or academic degree, you are likely to approach it with an optimistic attitude as you look ahead to new possibilities. However, at times you may also experience mixed feelings. These could prevent you from fully engaging in your new experience. 

To manage these feelings, it is a good idea to focus on what you have learned each day. For example, looking for what was interesting. If there were some disappointing or frustrating experiences, decide what you can learn from them. They will provide you with information that you can apply next time.

Making social connections:

During the first few weeks, you are likely to be filled with a sense of curiosity, interest, and excitement. For example, you may feel a little uneasy as everything is new and not sure about how things will unfold.

Being away from your family and friends may be difficult at the beginning. You may miss being able to see them and share your experiences in person. Relationships with family and friends will go through some changes too as you adjust to your different activities, and you establish a new work pattern. 

Fortunately, digital technology makes it easy to keep in contact with them, share how things are developing for you, and be able to continue to nurture your relationships with them.


Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions. Making sense of life´s changes. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

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