Advice for ESL Students

An interview with Ai Uchiyama from "Dear Ai"


"Dear Ai" is an online advice column for ESL (English as a second language) students. It is run by no other than Ai Uchiyama, a former ESL student from Japan. There she provides great advice, especially for students coming to Canada to study English.

In this interview we will try to learn more about the person behind the column, as well as some valuable tips.

So let's start...

1. You have an online advice column for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners. Could you tell us more about it?

I originally started an ESL help column in a printed newspaper around 2004 called the ESL Egg. The editor approached me with the question "What are we missing in the paper?" I answered back that the paper was missing an advice column, similar to a "Dear Abbey" but for ESL students, and this is where Dear Ai started.

2. Could you share with us your own experience of learning English? What were your best methods?

Persistence and patience will pay off. I'm still learning every day.

3. What has inspired you to start the column?

Pretty much the same answer as #1.

4. Can you give some tips for the ESL learners arriving to Canada?

People think once you're in an English speaking country, one can speak English fluently immediately. However, one needs to study English in their home country first before arriving to Canada.

5. What are you doing when you're not answering people's questions?

Reading English books!

6. What are your plans for the future?

That's a difficult question. I would like to learn Italian, crocheting (a type of knitting) and playing the piano!

Ai, thanks a lot for doing the interview.

So if you need an advice, or if you have a question about learning English, why not ask "Dear Ai"?

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