First of all I have been living in Edinburgh for 7 months as of September last year. During my stay in this city I have practiced many ways to improve my ability in English. I must say that living in a native English speaking country like Scotland creates many benefits in accelerating my English skills compared to learning it in my country. Below I shall illustrate how I have created an English environment around myself.
 

  • Keep talking in English
    Whether at home or out and about I always make sure that I use proper English to interact with people. The people with whom I interact can be my wife, friends whether from my own society or local people. The usage of English is not new to me as I come from Malaysia, which was a British colony and hence adopted English as an important tool of communication. The status of the English language is guaranteed by the government alongside our native tongue and many people, especially the urbanites use it as their first language in their day-to-day expression. As someone who comes from an educated background I too speak English on regular basis, which enables me to utilize it at a very advanced level.
     
  • Mingle with the native speakers
    Even though I am naturally introverted I always challenge myself to try new things in life as often as I can. For example I try to speak to a new person every day and try to make new friends. I would use every place that I go as a stage to create that English-speaking environment. For example just yesterday when I was waiting for a bus I approached an old man and started a conversation. Now this activity can yield a variety of outcomes. But mostly I have been received with warm acceptance. In the case of the old acquaintance I mentioned, he warmed up to me and started to share his personal stories and especially about life during the war. Now that is a very refreshing way of starting your day!
     
  • Take English language course
    I am always eager and passionate to get to know the locals and the international students in and around me. One of the surefire ways of learning English is to take an English class. Now, since I have entered the class I have made many friends in the school. There, you do not only come to learn English but actually do a lot of fun activities to enhance your communication skills. Furthermore, you always get to know other students better and make friends during the break and after the class sessions. Before you know it you are making close friends with people of diverse cultures and background from your own and that is the most exciting experience.
     
  • Be honest
    I view honesty as an important value in my life. In my dealings with people I always approach them with open arms and take an honest interest in their lives. In intercultural interactions there are many barriers that should be traversed before the relationship blooms into a wonderful one. Firstly, when you first approach a stranger you should show a genuine interest in him or her. You introduce yourself, ask about them and their interests in life, show a genuine interest in what they are telling you, and respond in a polite and engaged way. Afterwards you will have the advantage of sharing some common topics and will always have something new to say to each other. In that sense, developing friendship and camaraderie is an art unto itself, which should be built over time and in casual manner.

So these are the ways that I employ in creating an English environment around myself. I hope by keep practicing all these methods I will master English to a very satisfactory level and at the same time make new friends and relate to the local society in a very engaging way!

Wan