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When English is a Second Language - Tips for MUN Success Despite the Language Barrier.

Originally from China, I have been involved with Model United Nations for around three years at University of Sydney. As a second-language MUNner, I found it is extremely difficult for myself especially to start from scratch when my first MUN experience begin at tertiary level. There is no transition period for second-language MUNners to be accustomed to MUN language in either Chinese or English. Second-language MUNners will have to study MUN language in English, critical thinking, and different kinds of rules of procedures as soon as possible if they start attending formal MUN conferences after only a few miniMUNs. So for first-time second-language MUNners to attend their first regional or international conference, what should they know about MUN? How do they prepare for their first conference in their second language?

Picture showing United Nations Stamps, issued in the 6 official UN languages.

Photo Source: Envelope 100

MUN requests a certain amount of professional knowledge of international relations, diplomacy and international organizations. MUNners must be familiar with the international system, the system of the United Nations, international organizations related to certain sectors, the research process of MUN, rules of procedures and MUN language. This process of accumulation, second-language MUNners must be devoted and passionate about MUN and relevant knowledge, and of course, they must be willing to donate their time for preparation, which is entirely crucial for their future conferences.

The first step for preparation is to start doing general research of the United Nations system. For beginner MUNners, there is a APP called Model United Nations, which can be downloaded on your iPhone, is utterly convenient for MUN conference research. It contains all of the basic information you need to know about the United Nations, all of the fundamental documents in the course of the establishment of the United Nations, rules of procedures, UN system and most importantly the updated UN news. This APP is the bible for all the beginner second-language MUNners. My advice for second-language MUNners is if you can also download an English-Chinese dictionary, and create your own vocabulary list just for MUN. Perseverance is the key for your improvement, if you can adhere to your own vocabulary list, read a few news articles and UN top news everyday for at least one year, try to attend conferences in the mean time, you will notice your improvement.

The second step is to start attending miniMUNs. Go to every miniMUN held by UN society on campus, observe how the other delegates articulate their statements and arguments, take notes, record, and listen to the recordings. Studying MUN language is very crucial. You can start from imitation, but after a certain period of time, you will have your own style to deliver a speech. The other tip I am offering is to listen to representatives’ speech in UNSC, read their speech scripts and study the language. For most of the second-language MUNners, if you can donate just one or two hours everyday on studying how to improve your English language skills and MUN language skills by studying from miniMUNs and UN assembly speech script, you will find it so much easier when you attend regional or international conference.

For second-language MUNners there are so many obstacles to tackle, only with the courage of conviction, perseverance and accumulation of language skills will you find the fun of MUN and your own improvement. Start taking your first step!

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