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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

Gaining Confidence

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Academic English student, Hatice Korkulu, says making mistakes is all part of the plan.

After finishing her degree in City and Regional Planning and working three years for an international company in Turkey, Hatice Korkulu wanted international experience. So, after much research and discussion with a former professor, she travelled to Toronto and enrolled in the English Language Program (ELP). 

It was the idea of learning in a multicultural city that made Toronto a desirable destination.  This was something her former professor emphasized. In this environment, she advised, there will be many people from different countries using English to communicate. 

Now reflecting on her decision to move to Toronto, Korkulu thinks she made the right choice. 

“I wanted to have more confidence in English. I wanted to come to Toronto because I thought it would encourage me,” Korkulu said.  And I think being in a multicultural city is the best place to study.  We are all trying to learn about each other.  I think this is the advantage. I’ve learned so much about other cultures,” she added.

During her time at the ELP, in addition to studying Academic English, Korkulu has regularly attended ELP activities and volunteer events.  In fact, she has volunteered more than 35 hours of her time over the 12-week period.  But, this outgoing mindset is not a distraction from her studies.  It is deliberate.

“For me, the activities and volunteering are the best way to learn English and about Canadian culture: to meet Canadians and connect with people and the city,” she said. “I liked the activities because I have new opportunities to speak and meet new people.”

With a goal of applying for opportunities in the Geographic Information Systems field, preferably in Toronto and perhaps at the Toronto office of her former employer, Korkulu is gaining confidence in her English by the day. 

“I was a little bit shy before.  But then I made the decision and I moved here. And I am really happy to be here in Toronto.  Now I have more confidence than before and I know I can improve even more in the future.”

Having an attitude of persistence is key, according to Korkulu, to a successful learning experience. Though it can be intimidating at first, she said reflecting on her first day at the ELP, the more one tries to use the language, the more comfortable one will become engaging in it. 

“Always try.  This is the most important thing and don’t be afraid to talk to other people. They might ask you to repeat yourself but don’t be anxious or shy. This is how you get more confidence.  It’s normal to make mistakes.”

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