Completely immersing yourself in a language is often the best way to learn. Yosea Kurnianto talks about his experience developing his English language skills in the UK.

I first studied English in elementary school, back in my hometown of Temanggung, Indonesia. I have to admit that although I studied the language until my bachelor’s degree in Jakarta, I was not quite able to use it in daily life as only a few people around me spoke it. While I got chances to join many international events, which allowed me to further develop my skills, it wasn’t enough.

When I arrived in the UK to start my Chevening journey, my English language skills improved significantly, particularly for academic-related purposes. As I spoke, listened, read, and wrote in English on a daily basis, I became aware that I had lots to do to develop my skills if I wanted to make the most of my time in the UK.

Learning a language requires intense effort since the more we use it, the easier we acquire it. That’s why I always pushed myself to actively engage in classroom activities and other opportunities, specifically in an academic context, such as interacting with people at conferences, reading non-fiction books, and blog writing.

I also joined a debate competition on human resources management and industrial relations issues, teaming up with two friends to face other universities’ delegates. Given that I had no significant experience in debating, our team prepared for weeks before the competition and my teammates helped me to build my strength in using English for academic speaking—we won!

Yosea Kurnianto

Once a month, I joined academic forums such as the Manchester Industrial Relations Society and Work and Equality Institute. I was the only master’s student in the room, yet this situation helped me to gain the confidence to deliver my thoughts on the topics being discussed to the senior academics and professionals in attendance. As my speaking skills increased, so did my listening skills as conversation and interaction happened two ways between me and my counterparts.

Yosea Kurnianto

In terms of reading and writing, I read lots of journals and academic textbooks during my studies, and wrote thousands of words for academic coursework. In addition, I’ve realised that I like reading books more than before and have started to write my personal blog ( in English for my international friends. I’ve found that lots of wonderful books are reasonably cheap, so I bought at least three books a month and read them during my free time and on the weekends. Because I read a lot, I got more ideas and reflections to write about, which led me to post more articles on my blog.

Studying in the UK gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in the English language. I’m sure that these skills will continue to open up more opportunities in the future as it is the global language for major business activities, academics, sciences, as well as the arts. It is also great to have friends from all over the world through the Chevening network, which will allow me to continue using these skills and making memories with those friends.

Oi, guv’na! Think you know your chips from your chaps? Take our British slang test!

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