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In this activity you will

  • listen to students talking about their language backgrounds and OU study
  • reflect on your own learning interests and language story.

Watch all the video extracts and then answer the questions. In order to save any of your replies, you must press 'Save' before moving on to the next page. Once you have submitted all your replies, we offer a brief summary of points to think about.

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Agron: I grew up in Albania and I learned English there to start with, partly through myself, partly through the school system. My wife is Polish so, you know, English is our shared language and we communicate to each other in English.

Anna: I didn't want to miss out on higher education and opportunities it gives, so just to have a chance to do a degree with the OU, it's really good.

It had the most flexibility. As a mum, stay-at-home mum, it was really difficult to go into full-time studying and OU it was just a perfect answer for that.

Agron: The Open University courses come up with a lot of supplemental material, stuff that is directly related to the assignments. If you couple this with the access to the internet, you can spend hours finding things there, basically, and especially when your first language is not English, then the more access to material and help and other people, basically, you have, the better it is.

Alexa: My first language is French and I use English most of the time in my day-to-day life. Though I teach French in primary schools and nurseries, I tend to use a very small amount of French. When my children are around I speak French. Obviously when my husband is around, I speak English to him.

I did the course in Social Science, followed by a course in French. Then I did a course which was very interesting, which was called ‘Exploring the English Language‘. Having passed the exam, I then went on to doing the follow-up course which is called 'The Art of English'.

What I enjoyed the most is the books and the way they're written. They're written in a very accessible way, more informal and more close to everyday life, if you wish, which makes obviously my life much easier, to understand the text and write the essays, you know.

Aneta: I come from Poland and I came here four years ago now. It's been three years since I started at the OU. My first course was Introduction to Social Science and I've also done a Spanish language course and at the moment I'm studying 'Exploring Psychology' course.

I like challenges so I thought that there can't be anything more challenging than studying university level course in a foreign language so and obviously, you know, if I would fail, that would be still a lesson.

There is this amazing feel of unity with people who actually, you know, do the same thing as you do. They are completely different; they can even be, you know, abroad, but they support you, they will say don't give up.

I think that's probably the best way of study for anyone really if you if you think about this that you can do it on your own. But then you're not alone, if you know what I mean.

Kafula: I originally come from Zambia. I've been in the UK for about 17 years and I do community support work for adults with learning disabilities. My first language is Bemba. .Most of my conversations with my friends, even who are from Zambian family is like mixture of English and Bemba.

I started at the OU last year and I did 'Introduction to Social Sciences' and I plan to start my new course in June which is Psychology which is related to the kind of work I do.

Most of the clients I work with have difficult behaviours and behaviour problems. So I'm interested in understanding a little bit more about how and why people behave the way they do. And I think obviously psychology's going to help me gain that understanding a little bit more, and use that in my work.

Moungru: I come from Taiwan. I came to England 20 years ago.

My first language is Chinese. I speak Mandarin. Normally I spoke to my children in English but to my husband I speak Chinese.

I been with OU three years. I started doing Art Foundation, then I move on to 'Approach English Literature', then now I'm doing 'Exploring English Language.'

I think they're really interesting, especially the course material. They are very useful. It contain a lot of information. It's like having a little mini library at home.

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Your study plans

Now that you have listened to these students’ stories, think about your own learning experiences and how they connect with your current study plans.