Do you ever feel scared living in a different country? Personally, I did. I used to be an active and outgoing girl in Vietnam but when I came to study abroad in Australia, everything changed. I don’t have my family or my friends by my side whenever I need to talk to someone and I have to speak a language which is not my mother tongue. All of these things made me feel scared and gradually I became more shy. So what can you do to become more confident speaking English and living away from home?
When I first moved to Australia I felt like my pronunciation wasn’t good, sometimes I forget to say the last sound in some words. When I went to my first English class at GELI, I was saying easy words such as hello, thank you and good bye. The main reason why I did not talk too much was because I was afraid that everybody would laugh at me because my speaking skills were weak.
Fortunately, I met two wonderful people who helped me a lot and constantly encouraged me. These were my teacher and my host in Australia. My lovely teacher, Donna is a beautiful and kind woman. Perhaps because I was a new student and I pretty quiet in class she specifically noticed me. Day by day, Donna tried to encourage me to speak more. She told me: “Don’t worry about the grammar, just say anything you want clearly, that is enough for now”. She advised me to watch some reality television programs in order to help me speak the same as local Australians.
In addition, I really appreciated my host from my home-stay who was an enthusiastic and friendly man. When I returned home after school, he would ask me a lot of questions like: “How are you today?”, “Is your class good?” and “Do you have any stories want to share with me today?”. He took care of me like if I was his daughter. As I said before, my English needs to improve, but he tried to hear what I said and fix it for me. The first week I lived there, him and I sometimes used body language to describe our opinions and this was very exciting. Every day, I will search the vocabularies on the dictionary and think about the story in my mind, then I would tell him the story and we would have a funny conversation.
I didn’t realise that my speaking had improved quickly until my new friend asked me how could I speak so fluently and so fast? From what I have been through, here are some tips to help you improve your English speaking skills:
- Be yourself – You will be the best when you know who you are
- Always be confident – Don’t worry about making mistakes
- Speak in your own way – This is the first step to help you be like a local
- Try to speak English as much as you can, even with friends from your same country
- Don’t forget learn five NEW words a day and make sentences with them everyday.
I hope this tips help you continue to improve your English – and as they say in Australian slang: C’ya later 🙂
– Tammy Thanh Thuong Nguyen
Vietnamese guest blogger former GELI student