By: Jingshu Yao
My friends are always surprised by the fact that I love black coffee, but few people know how it happens. When I first enter the English speaking environment, ordering food was a challenge for me. Looking at the menu, I cannot even pronounce the names of the items correctly. In addition, there are always noisy backgrounds, with anxious people in the long line behind me, and sometimes the cashiers can have accents as well. Therefore, when I was asked how I would like my coffee, I dare not to waste time and embarrass myself by giving out an answer. So I said, “Nothing.” And that is how I get black coffee every time. Now, I feel less frightened while saying “caramel” or “half french vanilla” in front of the counter, but I somehow got used to the taste of black coffee and decide to go on with it. Even though I am now settled in peace with my coffee choice, I would like to share this anecdote because this is what happens to many ESL students in an English speaking country.
The same fear exists in different settings, mine occurred within the pleasant smell of Tims, others’ might feel fear in the enormous lecture hall, or that a professor cannot pronounce your actual name. Whatever your fear is, to find the motivation to combat the fear is imperative for developing your language skills. For me, reading is a great enjoyment. Since I am able to read in English, I started to realize translation is often insufficient for writing works, especially for literature and poems. With the motivation of reading the masters’ piece in its original expression, I found expending my vocabulary an urgent task. I am now on the mission to hunt for new words and making them a part of my treasure trove of reading. Improving your language skills is an arduous task, often filled with embarrassment along the way. The best thing to back you up is the motivation, and the reason for which you decide to receive higher education in English.