The challenges of a non-native English speaker

Moving to another country where they speak a different language, can be very intimidating. That was one of my biggest fears when I moved to the UK. 

Before coming to Portsmouth, it was really hard for me to speak in English because I was ashamed as I didn’t want to make mistakes in front of others. I was so hard on myself, and I preferred to not speak and go through an awkward moment.  

When I arrived in Portsmouth, I tried to talk as little as possible, and I preferred to be around people from my country, not talk in English and ask them to do it for me. I was always so insecure about my English. 

Shortly after arriving in Portsmouth, I applied to the position of International Student Ambassador at the University, I filled the form, and then they called me for the interview. I was nervous during the interview, and I didn’t believe I was going to get the job because of my English. However, they gave me the job and I was so excited; I couldn’t believe it. Being part of this team of students from all around the world gave me the opportunity to have new friends from other countries and I was able to communicate more in English. 

International Student Ambassadors

Also, the presentations and interactions in the classes helped me a lot. In the beginning, it was hard to participate in class, but then I decided to start doing it more even though from time to time I would make mistakes. Thanks to those hard and awkward moments my English is so much better. I also got more involved in different societies and volunteering, which allowed me to be exposed to speaking more English.

If you have the same worry that I had, the only way to overcome it is to put yourself out there and do it anyway. I recommend that you expose yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Talk with others, make friends from other countries, join societies and sports, do volunteer work, get involved with social events and opportunities that the University offers. Our university offers a lot of opportunities to learn, grow, and socialise, do not waste them, it will change your life. 

I am so happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone even though I was afraid. This experience abroad in a multicultural country and University has changed me completely, and today I can say that I feel more confident in myself when I speak English. My English is not perfect, but I can speak more clearly and I can understand more. Put yourself out there, you can do it!

Written by Paola Peynado Crespo, Dominican Republic