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College of Extended Learning

Persistence is the key to success when learning a second language

Kiup Kwon

Growing up in Korea, Kiup Kwon knew he wanted to study English abroad. He chose to move to Canada and enrol in the world-renowned English Language Programme (ELP) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). When he first arrived at ELP, his plan was to stay for two terms, but seven years later he is working and living in Fredericton and loving the lifestyle the quaint, east coast city affords.

After Kiup's first eight months at ELP, he extended his stay for one more term. It was during his third term that he was encouraged by an ELP administrator to consider continuing at UNB for his degree studies. Kiup decided to pursue his bachelor of business administration (BBA).

Kiup admits the first two years of his BBA were challenging.

“I found that especially the first year, taking four or five courses was hard. I didn't feel like I understood anything,” says Kiup. "I was busy with my studies the first two years, I didn't speak English well, and didn't even think I could work here in New Brunswick,” says Kiup.

Kiup says that professors and classmates were helpful.

“The key is to communicate. When I explained my situation to classmates, that English is not my first language and ask if I could borrow their notes, people were always helpful. No one ever said no.”

After finishing his second year in the BBA program, he came across an ELP posting for a summer student position. Kiup applied and got the job and says this opportunity changed him for the better.

“I gained some good experience and a lot of confidence. I had to be very active, speaking English in front of hundreds of students and communicating with people from all over the globe; it was really good for me.”

When asked what advice he would give a student considering enrolling in an English Second Language program, such as ELP, Kiup explains that you have to work hard and put in the effort.

“Communication is very important. It is easy to get nervous, but if you try you will gain confidence and your skills will improve as time goes by,” Kiup explains. “Also, make friends with people who are English to practice.”

Kiup recalls how challenging it was in the beginning.

“I remember when I first arrived here, ordering a coffee at Tim Hortons was hard. I'd get nervous and would go over and over in my mind 'what should I say, how I should say it,' but now I don't even think about it.”

The highlight of his experience was the many lasting friendships he found through ELP.

"The best thing about the ELP experience for me was the opportunity to meet people and make friends from all around the world."

"I still keep in touch with some people. I went home to Korea last year, and my mom and I went to Japan and met one of the students I studied with here [at UNB] seven years ago."

After his fourth year in the BBA, Kiup made up his mind to stay in Fredericton longer. He participated in the co-op program through the business faculty and worked for two terms in the university’s financial services department. After graduation, he continues to work at financial services.

“I think I will stay here [in Fredericton]. I like the work environment, and people are very, very nice, I like the pace of Fredericton, too.”

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