English Pracs

Helps you practice your English till you perfect it

Tips for Non-native English Speakers in English Speaking workplace.

Are you a non-native English speaker working with native speakers? If yes, chances are that you often feel like you don’t belong even though everything seems okay on the outside – your colleagues are good to you, and you are recognized for your efforts and skills. However, you might still feel like an outsider in the breakroom where all the native speakers seem to be speaking in a language that somehow feels different when coming out of your mouth. Speakers of English as a second language often come across situations that reinforce the idea of English monolingualism becoming superior to bilingualism of any kind. Could it be our accent or our clumsy use of idioms and slang, or could it be the culture as a whole? Perhaps, a bit of everything including our inner demon that makes us doubt each utterance that we make. Of course, this sense of inferiority is doing you no good and you want to move on. So, what can you do?

Acceptance

A good point to start is acceptance. Start accepting that English is not your first language, but you’ve learned it enough to get by with your life in English English-speaking country. If it helps, picture your English-speaking colleagues speaking your first language and feel their struggle. You might even be proud of yourself for whatever amount of English you speak.

If you feel your accent is the problem again start by accepting that your tongue is not used to speaking English as much as it is with your first language. Also, everyone has an accent, even the native speakers. The accent is part of your unique identity and identity should be embraced. However, if your accent hampers intelligibility, or if your colleagues find it difficult to understand your English utterances, you should opt for improvement. There are lots of tools on the internet to start practicing your English pronunciation. For starters, a video like the one below can be helpful. It allows you to imitate a native speaker. With continuity, you might find yourself a lot more intelligible.

Immerse yourself some more

If you are having trouble catching up to the level of your educated native-speaking colleagues, immersing yourself more in the language can help. Language immersion means you surround yourself with the target language. You might have heard people talking about how music and movies helped them to better their language. There’s no lie there. While you are having plenty of immersion at work amidst your native-speaking colleagues, there’s no harm in consuming English cultural products in your free time. Watch movies, read novels, and listen to music in the target language and you’ll trick your brain to become more comfortable with the language. And while you’re at it, you will also pick up a good deal of slang and idiomatic expressions. However, conscious reading can help too. This blog post teaches you some simple idioms that you can start using right away.

Don’t hesitate to participate

Stop wondering whether you should start with “Hey, how’s it going?” or “Hey, how are you?”. Just pick any of them and start mingling. The more you speak and let go of your inhibitions, the more you’ll realize that your colleagues don’t mind your English. Deep down they might even appreciate you for your courage to start your life over in a foreign place. In fact, they might be equally inhibited because they see you as a skilled professional that speaks many languages. You’ll not feel belonged unless you try to belong. Additionally, you might be able to find more commonalities than differences between the way you and your colleagues operate as humans. This in turn will lessen your inner sense of alienation.

Keep learning

Remember, learning a language is like learning any other thing. Languages evolve, and new words and styles come with time. Keeping yourself updated with new lingo can always put you in an advantage. Bettering your language is a process and not a goal. Become observant and listen to the people around you, take notes of the new words or phrases, and look for opportunities to use them. In no time, you’ll feel like a conversationalist who can take charge of any kind of verbal situation.

              To sum up, finding yourself in your second language community can take a toll on your confidence and self-worth. However, with conscious effort and some courage you can overcome it. Start by accepting your roots and striving for improvement. Keep at it. You got this.