Like my friends in Vietnam, I was first introduced to English when I was about 10 years old in elementary school. I had been learning English for more than 10 years at school and even had extra English classes as well. However, my English was truly limited. Every time when I took a test for a new English course, my English level mostly stayed at Pre-intermediate. I couldn’t even make any real conversation in English. I didn’t have any confidence to talk to a foreigner. Everything I knew about English was just around the textbooks with such boring things like grammar structures, and grammar rules. Of course, I did listen to English music and watch English movies with subtitles but they were not enough to build up the environment for English usage, not to mention the improvement.
After graduating from university, I got a research position in a Biotechnology laboratory. My English skills were just enough to help me find and read scientific articles related to my work. I barely used English in daily life, and at some point, I thought my English would be limited to that level forever.
Later on, when turning 26, being too tired and bored with my everyday routine, I grew an urge to broke off the loop. Studying abroad seemed to be the best option for my situation at that moment. However, if I wanted to be qualified to any postgraduate program, I should have got an international English certificate, which means I had to break through my English limit. That was the point I truly started working hard to improve my English skills. And I did it, I got the language certificate. (By the way, I am not going to tell how I achieved my English goal, maybe another time.) That allowed me to enter a master program of Environmental Sciences in a Finnish university. I quit my current job and moved to Finland for four years. I have to say this experience had changed my life attitude completely.
Sometimes I think, what if I didn’t make up my mind back in those days, I would never be myself today. If I didn’t improve my English skills, I would end up living my life in the loop when I was only 26. English not only helped me open the door to the world but also empowered me with the ability to break free. Therefore, don’t ever let your English limits limit your world. Take English as a tool, a passport to explore the world, explore your true self.
If you ever find learning English some kind of a difficult, boring task, then stop learning it, but start using it. In the end, we are not language scholars, we learn English to use the language in our everyday life. Here is my list of don’ts and dos for learning English, hope that you might find them helpful:
- Don’t just hang purposelessly with English learning, do get a goal to start
- Don’t learn English, do use English
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, do immerse yourself in English as much as you can
I will end my story here with my favorite quote about language by Ludwig Wittgenstein, “the limits of my languages are the limits of my world”.
Don’t let it happen to you.
P/S: I would love to hear your English learning journey. Please share yours by commenting below!