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“School in the UK is completely different!”

Nour was a teenager when he was resettled in the UK with his family. He spoke to us about learning English, discovering big differences between school in the UK and in Jordan, and making plans for the future.

Learning the language from scratch

Before I moved to the UK, I knew that learning the language as quickly as possible would be really important. I had heard from other people I knew who had been resettled that the first few weeks and months would be challenging because of the language barrier, but that things would get better over time as I learnt the language.

At school in Jordan, my teacher had taught us some very basic English – the numbers, the days of the week – that sort of thing. But that was all I knew, so when I came here I considered myself to be learning the language from scratch.

Also when we were learning English in Jordan, it was a mix between American English and British English, so when I used certain words in the UK, people would say ‘no that’s American!’

Starting a new school in a pandemic

After I arrived in the UK, I had my first week of school, and then we went into the Covid lockdown. In the first week of school I didn’t understand much, but the teachers and the students helped me as much as they could. They tried really hard to make sure that I didn’t feel isolated.

Then I had to study at home through the pandemic. The teachers used to help me by sending different links and sheets for learning English.

It was really important to stay motivated, but also to be patient because learning the language does take time.

My English is much better now, but I still need practice! At college I’ve made friends with some British people from Arab backgrounds who are fluent in English but don’t know much Arabic. We’ve started doing a language exchange – I help them to learn Arabic and they help me to learn English.

"I always live by the motto ‘never say never’!"

Getting to grips with a new education system

School in Jordan and in the UK is completely different! I noticed that some subjects are more different across the two countries than others. For example, history is really different. In Jordan, we learnt about the history of Jordan and the Arab countries. But here in the UK you learn about completely different topics. I like history, but I decided not to take history here because it was so different from what I know. But when it comes to science and maths, it’s much more similar – it’s just the language that is different.

The style of teaching in the UK is very different too. For example, in schools in Arab countries, the students normally stay in one classroom and then different teachers come to you, but here it’s the other way round.

Another difference is that when you have an exam here, the teachers will normally give you a week or two to prepare, but in Jordan you would only have a few days. Plus in Jordan my school was only for boys, but here my school is mixed.

When I first started school in the UK, I found that I had less homework than when I was in Jordan. But now that I have moved on to college, I am having to work very hard.

Making plans for the future

I’m in Year 12 now so I am starting to make plans for after school. I know that I want to go to university. I want to study engineering, but my dad would like me to study medicine or pharmacy… I might change my mind. I’m not sure yet!

I don’t mind which university I go to. I will apply to five because that’s the maximum that you can apply to here in the UK, and I’ll be happy to go to any that will accept me.

I would really like to continue living with my family and commute to uni, but there aren’t any universities nearby, so I’m going to have to move away.

I’ve coped with moving halfway across the world to a completely new country in the middle of a pandemic so I know I’ll be able to make it work even if I do have to move away. I always live by the motto ‘never say never’!