The Language Barrier
Well, now hopefully, you made it okay and you’re settled into dorm room or apartment. You’ve checked in with your university’s International Office and you’re ready to go to class!
For the first few weeks, I was quite shy to speak up in class. I never thought I would, you see, I’m a talker! Not shy at all. However, I became self conscious about my accent. It’s okay when you’re having informal conversations amongst friendly faces, BUT if you’re trying to sound eloquent and speak professionally in another language, it requires a whole different training!
I’d take my books home to read the required chapters and it would literally drive me up a wall how long it took me to finish it! So many new words, reading the same sentences twice, maybe three times to make sure I knew what it meant.
The verbal communication challenge became very obvious on my very first business presentation. In my native Portuguese, I nailed presentations. Not only that, I loved it! However, when I had to present in English, the words just wouldn’t come out! At least not the ones I was hoping…
The good news is that it got much better in time. Reading actually was my greatest ally as it has helped me immensely in developing my professional language. The gigantic failure of my first business presentation was soon part of the past and the embarrassment of speaking up was replaced by the good old note to self: “Don’t be the one who ALWAYS has something to say.”
What was your experience transitioning to a world of English? Has reading helped you improve your language skills?
List of International Students’ office in Pittsburgh Universities:
Please feel free to send us links to other universities!