I am Ivan, and I’m currently studying English at Pines International Academy. Originally, there were 2 other schools in my option. However, I chose Pines because I heard the system is very good, and it’s the number 1 in Baguio City. Also, a lot of students stay here for 2, 4 and even 6 months which means the school takes care of them well. I thought that maybe the environment at Pines is good when it comes to learning English that’s why many students choose this school.

Why English?

There are 3 reasons why I’m learning English: for job, future, and travel. The first one means you have higher opportunity to find a good job if you speak the global language. If you have a good job, then it means you will have a bright future. Lastly, I want to travel around the world, and for me the ticket for this is English. If you speak the language, there will be more chances for you to visit other places. You can feel and relate to the culture of the countries you visit, and communicating with people will be easier.

Studying English at Pines

I don’t like to waste my time, so I always do meaningful things that help me improve my English skills. I don’t just go with the flow. This is why I follow my own learning style, which is watching American movies or dramas. When I watch them, I look for simple and helpful expressions like “How can I help you?” I do repetition on these expressions.

Before coming here, I was scared and worried. I had never learned English before, so coming here is really a big challenge for me. I started as a level 2 student, and I couldn’t communicate with other people. Maybe the other students thought of me as a boring person because I didn’t talk much. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to but because I couldn’t.  So, I had spent my first month honing my English skills, especially speaking. In the classroom, I talked more than my teacher, and I always explained my ideas. I even shared my stories a lot of times (not only to one teacher).

By doing so, I found out that my sentences got better and better. So, the key points here are courage and perseverance. Here in Baguio, I tried a lot of first times: hailing a taxi by myself, ordering in a restaurant and chatting with foreigners including local people.

I’m a semi- spartan student. The reason behind this is because I wanted my study life here to be balanced. I spend 7- 8 hours each day learning English. I believe that too much of everything is not good, that is why I try to have time to clear my mind. You can opt to be like me, but only if you take the class seriously, and if you think critically and logically.

Teachers at Pines

The quality of teachers at Pines is excellent. I think teachers’ job is quite difficult compared to other jobs. It requires patience and passion especially at Pines, because of the diverse nationalities of students. Teachers at Pines are passionate at what they do, and they possess the patience needed in teaching a diversified audience. In addition, teachers here are systematic. They teach the lessons in simple and easy ways to understand. They don’t just stick to the book and some even go out of their way to research additional things for students. One example is teacher Amor, my writing teacher. She’s very good in a way that she summarizes all the patterns in the book and put them in one copy. Then, she gives concise, important meanings and examples.

There is another teacher that I really appreciate, teacher Raj. He was the first person to help me when I was in level 2. Our main subject was grammar, but he also taught me vocabulary and pronunciation. He would give me first the words that I initially know, then follow it up with advanced terms with the same meaning then proceed to explaining their usage. He even spent time teaching me after the bell rang. It touched my heart. During our class session, we talked about economy, government and the future. This helped me improve my skills more.

Weekend in Baguio

I heard that there are good places to visit nearby Baguio, but I’ve only been around the city. On Saturday nights, I usually go outside with my foreign friends. We go drinking. Well, I’m not really fond of drinking but this time is perfect for me to use the English language. When you go drinking, there are only 2 things you can do: drink and chat. At first, you’re probably shy to speak but as you get drunk, you’ll speak more naturally.

Suggestions for students and aspiring English learners:

It’s normal to feel anxious and worried when it’s your first time to come to Pines. Remember though that you are here to learn English. There are 4 suggestions I can share to new students who are going to study English.

First, you make foreign friends. You can converse with them about your cultural differences. How do you make friends at Pines? Simple, learn some phrases in other languages like Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. When you do this, the students will feel like you’re closer with them. There is somehow bond and familiarity.

Second, try to forget your mother language. Let your mind always think in English. Even if you’re talking to someone who has the same language as you, use English. I know this is difficult that’s why my first suggestion is you must make foreign friends.

Third, before you start learning English, find a learning method that best suits you. It will make your stay here more efficient. Don’t just read or preview your lessons. Of course, these things are needed, but I think there are better ways. In my case, I look for words that I like or vocabularies that I can relate to and make sentences using them. There are 3 advantages when you do this:

  • Train your mind;
  • Improve your English skills especially writing; and
  • Get fluent in talking about yourself since the sentences you’re practicing on are about you.

Last but not the least, write your resume. This is important especially if you are planning to apply for a job in the future. At Pines, you have so many people to help you. Time flies too fast, so you must value your stay here.