English Language for Academic Studies: one student’s experience

Sopheap 1

My name is Sopheap Meas and I am from Cambodia. I finished a bachelor’s degree in Archaeology in 2007 and a postgraduate in the conservation of cultural assets in 2013.

I’ve worked as a conservator of Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum of APSARA Authority in Siem Reap province since early 2008. In addition, I work for conservation in the Angkor world heritage site.

My journey to SOAS started in 2016 when I was doing a fellowship in the conservation of Archaeological materials at New York University. It was an absolutely joyful moment to hear that I’d received a scholarship to study MA History of Art/Archaeology at SOAS. Even better, the scholarship provided me with three terms of Academic English in the ELAS programme (English Language for Academic Studies) to support my English proficiency.

Initially, I was feeling fine and confident because I used to study some English in my country and at least I could communicate with people. However, the ELAS programme changed my opinion. It showed me that most of my English language was informal and could not be used for an academic purpose. Therefore, I was really worried that I would not be able to follow the lessons or achieve a high score.

I quickly made friends on the ELAS (English Language for Academic Studies) programme.

Luckily, my apprehension lessened term by term because I had very strong support from all my teachers. They answered all my questions, guided me and especially helped me to improve my areas of weakness. In addition, I had very good friends from different countries. We liked to work as a group and help each other. More importantly, we appreciated our differences.

ELAS provided two main courses, Literacy and Oracy. In literacy classes the students were taught grammar, academic lexis and methods for academic writing. Oracy classes played a very significant role to strengthen my English speaking skills. It covered vocabulary, pronunciation, speaking and listening. Notably, ‘how to deliver an effective presentation’ was taught and all the students had a chance to present their academic subject at the end of each term.

Three terms have come to the end, my classmates and I have finished an important chapter in our education, with significant results. Personally, I realized that my knowledge of English has improved and undeniably, I can identify my weaknesses and what should I do to develop further.

I believe what I have learned in ELAS will support me to do better in my postgraduate program this year and provide a sustainable result to my career back in my home country. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the teachers and staff at SOAS and especially the Alphawood scholarship for supporting all of us to have a good education.  

I worked in conservation before studying an MA at SOAS

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