I’m a French student who came to Wales for a five-month work placement at Tenovus Cancer Care with the hope of improving my English before studying engineering next year. I decided to carry out this work placement at Tenovus Cancer Care to gain some experience in an environment where English is the main language spoken to improve my ability.
When I first arrived I had a lot of difficulty understanding people because of the very different accents. Even though I already knew the basic vocabulary, the pronunciation and speed sometimes made it impossible to understand what people were saying.
After four months volunteering at Tenovus Cancer Care including three weeks at their Penarth shop, my listening skills have improved significantly. The opportunity to talk to customers helped me to familiarise myself with different phrases and accents.
When I explained to them that I came from Paris and I’m not fluent in English, they were willing to speak slowly or repeat what they have said to help me understand it. They are all very nice people to work with.
I now feel much more confident in all my English conversations. Speaking is a little more challenging than listening because it’s harder to react quickly with the precise expressions, but I have learnt to be flexible and find alternative ways to convey what I mean when I can’t think of the right words.
I worked in various positions in the shop, the office and the warehouse, where I had the opportunity to not only improve my English but also learn about the day-to-day operation of the organisation and the work they do. I enjoyed working in the shop because I could have conversations with staff and customers, who are always very helpful.
I spent five months immersed in a foreign culture where I learnt about ways of thinking, speaking, and living which are different from what I see at home.