I have always been in love with English. I was looking forward to the English lessons at school. It’s not that I had outstanding language skills ... probably quite average. I think my English teacher added me half a point or even a point for my diligence. Of course, she saw that I wanted to have a solid A, although, to be honest, I did not deserve.
After the high school, my love for English did not vanish, and I occasionally looked into various grammar textbooks and re-read topics such as “My hobby” and “London is the capital of Great Britain”.
One day, on my way to the college, I stopped to buy something at a newsstand. A middle-aged man with a backpack came up to me. He looked somewhat confused and was holding a map of the city in his hands. Yes, at that point paper maps were still in use. The era of Google Maps has not yet arrived.
In general, as you probably already guessed, it was a foreigner, or to be exact - a lost Englishman. Once the eye contact was establish, he said something like:
- Excuse me. May I ask you a question?
looking at me with hope in his eyes.
I was somewhat confused, but managed to pronounce confidently:
- Yes, of course!
He smiled back and unfolded the map, starting to poke at it with his finger. He had to get to a city attraction, which was, as they say, “in the middle of nowhere”. Of course, I knew what kind of place it was and how to get there, but when I began explaining this to the poor fellow, we seemed to have exchanged places.
My English went out of control. I desperately tried to assemble words into sentences, but they refused to obey. My thoughts mixed up, the language turned into a stone, all vocabulary and grammar disappeared in one moment, as if I had never known them.
The tourist looked at me in bewilderment, hoping to get at least some useful information from my mooing-muttering in pseudo-English. Well, folks, it was my mega fail. “Damn, damn”, or a “holy shit”, as some characters of the series "Univer" would say.
I do not want to bore you to death with all the details, I will only say one thing. On that day, I realized that if a person has no practice, then it is better to answer "NO" to the question "Do you speak English?" even if it feels like "YES".
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, many things have changed. I joined the English-speaking community, got acquainted with native speakers, communicated a lot with foreigners, traveled the world, worked as a guide, interpreter, and now I have switched to IT. English is still part of my life, but now it is a much better English, which is based on practice, a wide vocabulary and understanding of how it works. Speaking in IT language, I managed to hack English and see it from inside.
If you have read till this point, I would assume you have grown to the understanding that you can learn English only if you speak it. It's all about practice. If you have enough practice, you can easily keep a conversation going, you will not screw up in a real life situation, such as in the one that happened to me many years ago. And, of course, many doors will be open for you. You will get advantages in employment, you will be able to establish useful contacts with foreigners, travel the world and get a bunch of different bonuses that you do not even know about now.
I will gladly share my experience with you. I can give you some practical advice, or we will just chat in English. His Majesty the Internet will connect us wherever we are in the world. Sign up for my online meetings or get in touch with me through social media. As they say "Drop me a line if you need some English practice".
I'm on VK https://vk.com/alexenguse
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In case if you have decided to upgrade your English to a firm intermediate level and ready to invest 3-4 months of your time, take a look at my Conversation Confidence course. This is a series of online lessons aimed at improving your speaking skills. There is no grammar or theory there. Just practice and the vocabulary for everyday communication. The classes are based on a simple but powerful idea of a live conversation with me and other participants. These are group lessons. I correct your mistakes and give examples of how to express yourself in English clear enough to be understood by others. It assumes that you can speak English at this point, but experience difficulties building up sentences and rely on a limited vocabulary. Right now, you are somewhere near the pre-intermediate (A2), and our ultimate goal is to reach the Intermediate level (B1), or at least come close to it.
See you online!